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.
8 comments on “ALA President Leslie Burger’s letter to UCLA regarding the taser incident”
That’s a pretty good letter, but I wonder why it took them a month to write it.
Also, given that amount of time, you’d think someone would notice the play on words in the phrase “shocking and unwarranted treatment” and removed it.
Good letter. It’s important that someone from the Library Community made a statement like this.
Glad she did it.
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.
Obviously, even to those who support the tazered student, by the time that campus security became involved in the situation, the student was out-of-control, uncooperative and the library staff no longer felt they were able to deal with the situation.
While this is a terrible event, it has nothing to do with the unfairness of the library’s policy. Rather, it has to do with the campus police’s reaction to an individual who refused to comply to their commands.
The policy is not the problem, rather the over-reaction of a single responding officer is what should be addressed here. As well, one should remember that the student, too, is complicit in the situation’s escalation.
For that reason and a few others, I am disappointed by this letter.
granted this young man was acting like a 5 year old child– there is no warrant for tasering him even once
there were two officers completely capable of escorting him off the grounds– heck the guy who tagged him five times was a former Marine
this incidence reflects an excessive use of violence, even worse, that in a place of sanctuary
this letter is completely appropriate
and for anyone who thinks the police did not use excessive force, i wish this exact treatment on your child
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