Davis, CA – The Associated Students of the University of California Davis (ASUCD) Senate has opted not to urge university administrators to disarm campus police officers, but only by a slim margin.
SR #10, authored by seventh-year sociology Ph.D. candidate Blu Buchanan and the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission, aimed to disarm UCD campus police for the “betterment” and safety everyone on campus – especially students of color, LGBTQ students, and those with disabilities, The California Aggie reported.
“University police officers frequently do violence to people of color, folks with disabilities and queer and trans folks on our campuses,” Buchanan declared. “We really tried to hone in on…a particular way that we could make our campuses safer.”
Buchanan claimed that students are fearful of armed police, and alleged that officers discriminate against protected groups all the time.
Cody Bynes, a fourth-year political science student and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, denounced the proposal during the ASUCD meeting on April 11.
“Disarming the police is disarming the means to protect students in a worst-case scenario,” Bynes said, according to The California Aggie. “If we take away the police’s means to defend students and also defend themselves, why is that productive?”
“I don’t speak up about much, but when it comes to safety, I feel particularly passionate,” said Bynes, who took a day off of work to attend the over three-hour debate.
“It’s just always been in my nature, especially from being able to see it firsthand in the military, but this really just struck a nerve,” he said.
But Buchanan argued that campus police officers should also be disarmed in order to stop them from participating in the 1033 program, which would allow them to receive excess military equipment and supplies from the U.S. Department of Defense.
He alleged that officers who receive the surplus military supplies then perceive community members and university students as enemy combatants.
UC Davis Police Chief Joseph Farrow said that his department has no intention of participating in the 1033 program.
“We don’t have any military stuff from [the government], we aren’t going to do that,” Chief Farrow said. “In fact, if you look at our department, we’re trying to minimize that type [of weaponry].”
The resolution ultimately failed to pass in a 6-to-5 vote, but several senators noted that they only disagreed with the wording, not with recommending disarming the police force.
The resolution’s authors said they will rewrite the measure and resubmit it for the student senate’s consideration.
“When you start talking about disarming police departments, that’s a big deal. That’s a really, really big deal, because basically what you’d be doing is disbanding a police department,” Chief Farrow cautioned. “We wouldn’t be police officers anymore — I guess we’d be…security guards. That changes the level of your protection.”
It wasn’t the first time UC Davis’ campus police force came under attack by members of the university community.
Irvin said he first heard rumors of Clover’s anti-police statements months earlier, but that he initially thought the story “seemed too extreme to be believed.”
“Only the intellectually dishonest would even broach such blanketed and violent sentiments — certainly not a highly-regarded professor at a top public university,” Irvin wrote in the article.
But after Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona was fatally shot in the line of duty, Irvin began digging into the rumors about the author and poet to see if there was any truth to them, he said.
He didn’t have to look much further than Clover’s Twitter account.
“I am thankful that every living cop will one day be dead, some by their own hand, some by others, too many of old age #letsnotmakemore,” the professor tweeted on Nov. 27, 2014.
“I mean, it’s easier to shoot cops when their backs are turned, no?” a Dec. 27, 2014 tweet read.
During a Jan. 31, 2016 interview, the self-proclaimed communist shared his views on what he claimed was the main problem facing society.
“People think that cops need to be reformed,” he said. “They need to be killed.”
Irvin reached out to Clover to discuss his statements and viewpoints further.
“This was the first step to uncovering the standards to which our university holds its professors,” Irvin noted in the opinion piece.
But Clover maintained his anti-police position, and showed no remorse for his statements.
“I think we can all agree that the most effective way to end any violence against officers is the complete and immediate abolition of the police,” the professor responded in an email, according to Irvin. “Direct any further questions to the family of Michael Brown.”
Irvin then turned to UC Davis English Department Interim Chair Gina Bloom, who did little more than defend Clover.
“[He is a] valued member of our department and the university community; a strong and popular teacher; and a well published scholar and poet whose work has been lauded across the world,” Bloom declared, according to Irvin.
Provost Ralph Hexter said that the statements Clover made about murdering law enforcement officers did not violate the school’s standards of academic freedom, according to Irvin.
“The basis for academic freedom is to make sure that the university is a place where unpopular and different views are heard,” Hexter said. “I think that teaching controversial subjects is always a challenge, and you have to maintain a space as a faculty member so that views you might very much disagree with can be expressed by the students, be respected and be challenged, but according to bases in fact and logic.”
“Our practice has not been to discipline people for things that they say outside the university,” Hexter told Irvin.
“If you say something against a protected class, and it would impact the individuals on campus, that opens it up to a different line of consideration,” the provost added. “Being a law enforcement officer, or hoping to be, is not a protected class.”
Irvin said that UC Davis administrators refused to speak with Clover about the threatening comments, and that the professor remains in good standing at the university.
Clover refused to discuss the matter, according to multiple news outlets.
“On the day that police have as much to fear from literature professors as black kids do from police, I will definitely have a statement. Until then I have nothing further to add,” he told KTXL.