ALA President Leslie Burger’s letter to UCLA regarding the taser incident
Posted with permission
December 13, 2006
Dr. Norman Abrams
University of California at Los Angeles
University Chancellor’s Office
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1405
Dear Acting Chancellor Abrams:
I was shocked, as were many of the 66,000 members of the American Library Association, to read about and watch the November 14, 2006 incident that unfolded at the Powell Library. On behalf of ALA I urge you to take immediate action to ensure that library patrons will never be subjected to this type of shocking and unwarranted treatment again. The violent manner in which Mostafa Tabatabainejad was treated is unconscionable.
We applaud your decision to conduct an independent investigation of this matter but also urge you to reexamine your security practices as a result of this incident.
While I can appreciate the need to provide for the safety and security of library users this incident reveals how easy it is for these situations to escalate. On college campuses throughout the country, libraries are places for sanctuary and peaceful study. Please restore that sense of sanctuary to the students and faculty at UCLA by ensuring that the privacy and security of all who use your campus libraries are protected from violence from the University’s security force.
We live in difficult times in which many people in our country are persecuted and criminalized due to the color of their skin and their ethnicity. Our Association’s Bill of Rights states that a person’s right to use a library should not be abridged because of origin, age, background or views. We hope that UCLA and all its campus libraries honor this basic tenet of library service.
We condemn the violent actions against Mr. Tabatabainejad and urge you to reexamine current security practices to ensure that they are fair and responsive to the needs of the campus community and free of excessive force.