ABC News (and other news outlets) report that John Kerry issued a statement today in response to the incident leading to the arrest of a student at the University of Florida:
"In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way.
I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption, but again I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police prior to his barging to the front of the line and their intervention.
I asked the police to allow me to answer the question and was in the process of answering him when he was taken into custody.
I was not aware that a taser was used until after I left the building. I hope that neither the student nor any of the police were injured.
I regret enormously that a good healthy discussion was interrupted."
Rick Klein of ABC News notes, "For politicians, hecklers come with the territory. But the arrest and detention of Meyer at Kerry speech on Monday stood out in at least two respects: Police acted aggressively in trying to silence Meyer, and the entire incident was captures on video -- making it an immediate Internet and TV sensation."
Videos show Meyer being pulled away from the microphone after as he sought to ask Kerry, D-Mass., a rambling series of questions that touch on allegations of voting improprieties in the 2004 election, possible impeachment of President Bush, Iran, and Kerry’s membership in Yale's secret Skull and Bones society.
Kerry sought to answer at least some of Meyer’s questions even as Meyer was dragged off by campus police -- and after police used a Taser to try to subdue him as he was being arrested.
The University of Florida has scheduled a news conference to discuss the incident at 3 pm ET today.
Todd has already posted about this mess below, but I'm chiming in here because the incident is being used by the wingnuts to slam John Kerry (and us lefties generally) and I am mad as hell that yet again, the blathering idiots are twisting news to in effect swift boat John Kerry again.
Clearly the cops were out of control here, using excessive force in my opinion, and Meyer wasn't simply asking a question but ranting. This incident is not indictive of liberals nor is it indictive of any Democratic political event. During the NH primary, I was at en event where a LaRouche supported started to ask Kerry a question and the audience tried to shut the questioner out. Kerry insisted on answering the questioner and although the questioner ranted on for sometime, Kerry and the audience let him speak. There were no cops dragging him off, no one harmed the man for speaking his mind. And I will note the man was in much closer proximity to Kerry, than Meyer was yesterday.
ABC's Klein notes that "Kerry, who was the Democrats’ nominee in 2004, is no longer assigned Secret Service protection, and does not bring his own security to events. That left University of Florida police in charge of security -- to notable results on Monday."
People need to take a deep breath and put this into perspective. This could have happened anywhere, at any event. It's not about John Kerry. It's about one person pushing the envelope to be heard and cops using excessive force. I am like many who have seen the video or read the news stunned by this. Knowing Senator Kerry personally, I agree, he could have "handled the situation without interruption" if the school police had allowed him to.
Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.