UC Davis Won't Discipline Professor Who Says 'Cops Need To Be Killed'
Correction: The original version of this story mistakenly used Officer Natalie Corona's name with information about how Officer Ronil Singh was murdered.
Davis, CA – A University of California Davis literature professor who repeatedly advocated for the murder of law enforcement officers will not be reprimanded for his statements.
UC Davis professor Joshua Clover’s past comments about police came to light just over a month after Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona was murdered in the line of duty by a gunman, comparative literature student Nick Irvin said in an opinion piece published in The California Aggie.
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 Officer Corona’s brutal murder, 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.
UC Davis Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Dana Topousis, on behalf of the school’s administration, said that Clover’s statements were “unconscionable,” but that they did not warrant further action, Irvin said.
Likewise, 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.”
He said that humanities professors, including Clover, are allowed even more leeway when discussing “controversial” topics than professors in other departments, and insisted that Clover’s statements were protected by his rights to freedom of expression and free speech.
“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.
“If the university is ‘truly grateful for the dedication of those in our community who protect us at any cost,’ its defense of Clover doesn’t show it,” Irvin wrote in the opinion piece. “He was never truly confronted about his advocacy for murder.”
Irvin said he released his findings in order to expose what is being permitted at UC Davis.
“I want people to know that one of our professors is saying these things and he wants people to die for nothing more than the badge that they wear," he told KTXL. “I just want people to know what this university is allowing.”
As news of the opinion piece spread, UC Davis released a statement about Clover’s comments.
“We find it unconscionable that anyone would condone much less appear to advocate murder. A young police officer has been killed serving the city of Davis. We mourn her loss,” the statement read.
Clover refused to discuss the matter, according to multiple news outlets.
He has also set his Twitter profile to private.
"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.