Over the course of one week, University of Florida student/ amateur provocateur Andrew Meyer went from loud-mouthed social protester to big-time Internet sensation, thanks to some rather shaky camera footage, some overly aggressive campus security officers and one rather fantastic catchphrase.
By now, you've seen the footage: On Monday, Meyer hijacked the microphone during an on-campus speech by former presidential candidate John Kerry, rattled off a torrent of questions before being grabbed (and, eventually, Tasered and led away in handcuffs) by members of the university's police department. And you've probably heard his howls of "Don't Tase me, bro!" — a pained exclamation that's quickly become an Internet catchphrase on par with "All Your Base Are Belong to Us" and Chris Crocker's "Leave Britney Alone!"
But you probably haven't heard the "Don't Tase Me!" remix, 44 seconds of Meyer's now-infamous plea chopped up over a pulsing techno beat. It's the kind of de rigueur response that accompanies any online phenomenon, really worth nothing more than a quick chuckle. Until you realize that it's the handiwork of Meyer's classmate and friend Toby Turner, who's trying to raise money for his buddy's legal-defense fund.
"I know Andrew, and he's a good guy. So I watched the clip of him getting Tasered, and as soon as I heard him yelling, I knew it would fit in a hip-hop song or something," Turner said. "And after I made the remix, I realized that it would get a lot of plays, so I decided to put an ad on the end of it, to let people know that they could go to another site and buy 'Don't Tase Me' T-shirts. I wanted to give him the profits."
Meyer was arraigned on Tuesday at the Alachua County Criminal Justice Center, charged with resisting arrest with violence (a third-degree felony) and disturbing the peace (a second-degree misdemeanor). He was released from jail that day and is awaiting a trial date, while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement runs an investigation into UPD's use of a Taser.
Battling those charges is going to cost some serious coin, and Turner was hoping that sales of his T-shirts would help offset those costs. The only problem? As of Friday (September 21) he'd only sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 shirts, which, well, doesn't exactly translate to much of a war chest.
"In the first couple hours after I put the remix video up, I sold about 10 shirts, and since then, I've sold something like 60 more," Turner said. "Even if I sold a lot of them, it wouldn't translate to a lot of money because, since I'm going through a site to sell them, I only make like $2 to $4 a shirt. ... Basically, so far, I only have, like, $250."
And that's hardly enough to mount a legal defense. So given the fact that Turner is a college student, he's devised a rather brilliant way of helping his pal: He's going to use the money to throw Meyer a totally awesome party.
"I'm gonna throw him a welcome-home party. He has parties at his house all the time, and they're packed with people, so I'll try to have something like that," Turner laughed. "I'll get a keg or two, plus whatever else he wants. Hopefully he won't be mad at me though. I haven't spoken to him since this whole thing happened, and I don't know if he's seen the remix. I'm not sure how I would feel. But I'd probably think it's funny."