Dont Tase me bro

Guess what happened to me last weekend? Give up? Well, I was clamped by private clampers on an allegedly “private” road near my Kwik-Fit garage (just to get a bloody MOT!).

Four and half hours later I’m still there trying to resolve the situation (they wouldn’t let me pay with a card because … their machine “wasn’t working”). It was, as they say, getting a bit tasty here and there. Other clampees were certainly taking “direct”  – though non-violent – action. How did it end? Well, I paid by card … over the phone. Anti-climax. Leaving aside my complaints letters (several already sent), that’s the end of story.

Contrast this with the bizarre news the same weekend that a clamped man in Colorado had a “shoot-out” by Taser with a private clamper in a restaurant car park.

Now I don’t usually carry a stun gun (not least because they’re illegal for private citizens in the UK). But most US states allow people to pack them – including a model with headphones and a built-in MP3 player, offering Americans "both security and music while on the go."

Okay, different country, different relationship with weapons, but what’s worrying is the way that “policing by Taser” has spread from north America to the UK comparatively quickly and we now have wide deployment of these dangerous weapons by our own police forces.

At Amnesty we’ve been saying that they need to be treated as the highly dangerous weapons they clearly are and only used by fully trained officers as is the case with firearms. In other words, we need to roll back this rush to wider and wider deployment.

The key point is that people are in the US and Canada have died after being Tasered and experts are saying that people with heart conditions are particularly at risk if hit by 50,000 volts.

Just yesterday the Canadian Royal Mounted Police (yes, the “Mounties”!) were giving evidence to an inquiry into the now infamous death of the Polish man Robert Dziekanski, Tasered several times at Vancouver airport after becoming agitated last year. He died soon afterwards.

If you haven’t seen it yet, have a look at the chilling YouTube footage filmed by a fellow passenger who was following what happened to Dziekanski – but be warned, it’s tragic, upsetting and hard to watch. (That said, watch it! It deserves a lot more views than the 63,000 it’s had so far.)

The lesson of this story? Be careful where you leave your vehicle. And support Amnesty’s work in making sure that the police really know what they’re doing with the 50,000 volts strapped to their hips.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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