Controversy erupts at Senate meeting — critics question necessity of Corona-specific resolution
A special session of the ASUCD Senate was held on Friday after the association cancelled its weekly scheduled meeting on Thursday due to security concerns following threats of violence made to association members in response to a controversial statement posted by the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission (ECAC).
The special session was specifically called to order for the consideration of emergency legislation intended to honor slain police officer Natalie Corona, who was killed while responding to a traffic incident in Downtown Davis. Two security guards were stationed outside the ASUCD meeting.
The meeting quickly became tense when the legislation was opened for public comment. The legislation included mention of the “thin blue line” symbol, which the authors argued was how police officers honor their dead.
The symbol was the subject of ECAC’s controversial statement, which made national headlines and was posted just one day after Corona’s death. The commission criticized community members for posting images of what they claim is the “Blue Lives Matter flag” in support of Corona.
The flag doubles as both a symbol for Thin Blue Line USA and the Blue Lives Matter group, both of which support U.S. law enforcement. Critics of Blue Lives Matter, however, say the group is a reactionary backlash to Black Lives Matter. ECAC called the flag, synonymous with both groups, “anti-Black” and “disrespectful.”
During public discussion over mention of the thin blue line symbol, members of the audience pointed to the controversy surrounding the alleged racist connotations of the “thin blue line.”
A representative from the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) group at UC Davis said they view the thin blue line symbol as racist because of its birth during the civil rights movement. They condemned ASUCD President Michael Gofman’s Facebook post which heavily criticized ECAC’s statement.
Mohammad Qayum, a fourth-year political science major, requested that the audience and the senators present put aside politics and focus on honoring the fallen police officer. The representative from YDSA replied that Senate resolutions are inherently political and, thus, the discussion could not separate politics from the matter.
Other audience members voiced frustrations over the fact that Natalie Corona was being honored in this resolution while there were no resolutions honoring other individuals who have tragically been killed, such as those who die from homelessness.
Some audience members began chanting “Black Lives Matter” during the meeting, until the meeting was called to order.
ASUCD Senator Jumoke Maraiyesa alleged that the lack of people of color in attendance at the session was a result of those individuals feeling unsafe. Maraiyesa later walked out of the meeting but returned before it was adjourned.
ASUCD Senator Atanas Spasov motioned for the mention of the thin blue line in the resolution to be removed. The motion was passed with six senators voting yes.
The meeting was adjourned early by ASUCD Vice President Shaniah Branson.
A public forum will be held from 5 to 7:00 p.m. at the CoHo on Tuesday, Jan. 22. The forum will allow community members to discuss the opinions surrounding this legislation before ASUCD votes on or amends the resolution.
Written by: Sabrina Habchi — firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article stated that Senator Jumoke Maraiyesa left the meeting but did not mention that she later returned before the meeting adjourned. The article has been updated to reflect this correction. The Aggie regrets the error.