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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

November 21, 2006

Written by C.N.

Iranian American Student Tazered at UCLA

You may have heard that last week, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a 23 year old Iranian American student at UCLA was tazered by campus police after refusing to show his student ID card while in a campus library. A fellow student recorded video of some of the incident and although you can’t really see much in terms of the actual incident, the audio clearly conveys what happened:

As the Associated Press reports, Tabatabainejad feels that he was initially targeted and subsequently tazered because of his Middle Eastern appearance and that he is planning on filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officers responsible:

A student who was shocked by a campus police officer’s Taser gun after he refused to show ID at a UCLA library thought he was being singled out by the officer because of his Middle Eastern appearance, his lawyer said. Attorney Stephen Yagman said he plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the U.S.-born student.

Tabatabainejad, 23, was shocked Tuesday night after arguing with a campus police officer who was conducting a routine check of student IDs at the University of California, Los Angeles Powell Library computer lab. Yagman said his client declined to show his school ID because he thought he was being targeted for his appearance. His family is of Iranian descent. . . .

UCLA’s interim chancellor, Norman Abrams, urged the public to withhold judgment while the campus police department investigates. Several civil rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, have called for an independent review.

Obviously I wasn’t there to know the exact details of how the incident unfolded. But what I do know is that racial profiling against anybody perceived to be Arab, Middle Eastern, and/or Muslim is a very real fact in American society these days. Even if Tabatabainejad refused to show his student ID, I have to ask why was it necessary to tazer him. Was he brandishing a weapon? Was he threatening the police officer’s life? Usually, those are the only reasons why someone would be tazered, correct?

It seems to me that Tabatabainejad clearly has a case of racial profiling and excessive force on his hands. I hope he prevails and receives justice.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Iranian American Student Tazered at UCLA" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/11/iranian-american-student-tazered-at-ucla/> ().

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