The militarization of our country’s police force has become a much-talked-about and controversial topic over the last several weeks. With officers shooting our citizens and residents, many may be wondering whether taser use may be a more effective way for police to restrain combative individuals without taking lives.
Indeed, using a taser to immobilize an adult seems like a good idea when you consider the alternative would be to pull out your gun and kill the guy. But it’s important to know the facts: As of April 2013, there have been 538 taser-related deaths in the United States since 2001. Some of those killed were children.
Truth Not Tasers and Electronic Village have been compiling a list of North Americans who died after they were tasered since 2001 and the statistics are staggering. More than 790 people have died since 1984 as a result of being tasered, and 530 of those deaths have occurred just since 2001.
Additionally, it seems that taser use is targeted at both racial minorities and people with mental illness. The video above involves a case of an 11-year-old girl with autism who was found naked, walking beside a highway. Though an eyewitness described the girl as calm, the police officer who appeared on the scene tazed her. This is merely one example of the possible problems with tazing.
BORDC is aware of the concerns regarding tasers and is taking action and reaching out. In Berkeley, California, police are asking the City Council for tasers. The City Council wants a study. The Coalition for TASER Free Berkeley is convening a diverse panel to discuss their experience with tasers to help Berkeley make an informed decision. Tomorrow, BORDC’s Executive director will be part of a panel discussion regarding taser effects on various communities, people with mental illness, previous cities’ experience with tasers, and how taser use would be monitored and police officers held accountable.
If you are in the Berkeley area, please join the discussion at 1939 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA 94704 at 7 p.m.
Other panelists will include:
- Aram James, Activist and former Public Defender in Palo Al
- Barbara Ann White, Berkeley NAACP representative and Berkeley Mental Health
- James Chanin. Founding member of the Police Review Commission and Civil Rights lawyer
- Jeremy Miller, Program Director, Idriss Stelley Foundation, Co-organizer of the successful campaign to stop San Francisco from getting TASERs
This event is free, open to the public, and is wheelchair accessible.