UC Davis students and the UC Davis Police Department hosted this year’s third community forum entitled “Realism and Racism” on April 14 in the ARC Ballroom.
This forum series is a student initiated event meant to address current national issues and events involving police misconduct. The first forum was held on Jan. 7, titled “Police Conduct and Police Misconduct,” and the second was on Feb. 18, “Problems, Processes, and Procedures.”
The forum was directed by police officer Tim Hunter and fourth-year community and regional development major Chakera “Star” Bacon. Campus leaders, such ASUCD president Mariah Watson, Acting Lieutenant Jennifer Garcia and UC Davis Police Chief Matthew Carmichael, were in attendance.
A community agreement that established the rules and guidelines of the forum was presented first. It stated the two-minute speaking limit, that only one microphone was to be used at a time and that mutual respect was expected both from the police department and the UC Davis students during the forum.
The forum then began with a small activity. Bacon asked the police officers and students to vote from a variety of compared products and choose which one they prefer. Bacon explained how the activity was meant to express how these items are very similar, yet people still have varying preferences between the two.
There was next a group discussion, in which students and police officers at each table were meant to answer and discuss amongst themselves the statement, “If you know me, if you really knew me.”
A video clip was presented after group discussion titled “Crack the Code,” which is a documentary film based on racism and stereotypes. Group table discussion was encouraged at each table after the video.
Larger public discussion broke out when Hunter and Bacon asked who wanted to voice aloud their questions and concerns about the topic of racism involving the police department.
Officers responded by offering solutions and by asking what the public expects to see from them. A recurring response was for the police department to better educate themselves on racial issues and become more aware of subconscious racial biases and white privilege.
Many students spoke out on their personal experience with racism and on the topic of trust building between the students and police officers. Students strongly voiced their opinions on gun culture and gun privilege and how they believed officers should not carry an armed gun with them when on campus grounds so that students can feel more comfortable around them.
Both the officers and students spoke on the hiring process of potential police officers and about the concern for improvement within the system so that officers with a subconscious racial bias are not hired.
The forum was wrapped up by ending with a review of a few statements to take away based on the topics discussed.
Graphic by Jennifer Wu.