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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Videos and online coverage of the Tasering and arrest of UF student Andrew Meyer have fueled a firestorm of controversy, prompting mixed reactions from UF students about the incident and the national attention surrounding it.

Alexandra Weissman, a UF microbiology senior, said she is embarrassed for UF that the footage has circulated nationally but is glad that Meyer's arrest was caught on tape.

"What scares me is what the police would have done had cameras not been there," said Weissman, who marched with students from the Plaza of the Americas to the University Police Department on Tuesday as part of a protest.

Students watched with mouths agape as footage of the arrest played in some university classrooms. Debates among students about the incident replaced Tuesday's lectures in other classes.

Facebook groups were also formed in response to Meyer's arrest.

"Don't Taser Me, Bro!" had more than 1,200 members as of Tuesday night, and "Gators for the Tasing of Andrew Meyer" had 56.

Meyer's friends posted news and video clips of the arrest on his own Web site while he was in custody.

Messages on Meyer's Facebook profile read "you are a celebrity!" and "you're a star, milk this for all it's worth." One student asked Meyer to sign his copy of Tuesday's Alligator.

One of several videos of the arrest posted on YouTube was viewed more than 540,000 times, and a Wikipedia entry titled "University of Florida Taser incident" was created.

Alex Sommer, a UF senior who also marched in protest Tuesday, said he thought video of the arrest attracted much of the attention.

"With this technology, people can see what happened firsthand, unedited and unbiased by the media," he said.

Other students said the media attention has blown the incident out of proportion.

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"It seems like people are making a bigger deal out of this than it should be," said senior Daniel Blackman.

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