Community members react to Professor Joshua Clover’s statement that cops “need to be killed”
For over 30 years of my life, I’ve been known as “Officer Smith,” “Sgt. Smith” and “Detective Smith” with the by-line of “Davis Police Department.” For the past eight years, I’ve also proudly carried the title of “retired Detective Sgt. Smith.”
For 30 years, I worked in and around UC Davis students. I was the officer who helped a graduating senior who was leaving town after graduation change the tire on his car at the ampm because, while he had a degree in chemical engineering, he had never learned to change a tire. I am the officer who spent 7 hours with the victim of the NorCal Rapist after she was kidnapped at knifepoint from her apartment on Alvarado and sexually assaulted in the back of her car. I was also the officer who each night at 10 p.m. would go the Lil Caesars Pizza on Covell Blvd and buy (out of my own pocket) all their leftover $5 pizzas and deliver the aromatic stack of cardboard boxes to the homeless encampment behind the train station.
30-plus years, and I could fill a novel with all the interactions, both positive and negative, that I had with the students, professors and staff of UCD. If you research David Thornton, the UCD student who died of an alcohol overdose on his 21st birthday in a downtown bar during an ill-fated night of “21 drinks on the 21st birthday” celebration, it was me who had to notify his parents and break the news that their 21-year-old son was dead. Look at the white bicycle at the corner of Covell and Pole Line Road. It is a makeshift memorial to a female UCD student who was riding her bike home and was “clipped” and run over by a semi-truck loaded with tomatoes headed to the old tomato plant just down the road. And yes, it was me who had to attend the autopsy and attempt to remain emotionless as the coroner dissected her badly mangled body.
My point is not one of self-glorification. It is simply to point out that Officer Natalie Corona and many, many before her have spent the majority of their lives “doing the right thing,” and now stand by as anarchists like Professor Clover spew hatred and dissention towards us as professionals and as human beings — all the while being protected by the First Amendment.
Just know that if you took Professor Clover’s quotes and inserted the words “college professors” instead of “police officers” and attributed it to any police officer in the country, they would immediately be fired. Yet, in the enlightened world of academia, such vitriol is both accepted and appreciated for providing a different viewpoint.
SCOTT SMITH, SACRAMENTO, CA.
To the Editor:
I just applied to UC Davis and am hoping to be admitted.
I can honestly say, with a brother who’s an officer and a mother who has worked as an office civilian worker for the LA Police Department, I am genuinely hurt by the professor’s words and the university’s lack of action. This is making me second guess my choice of university. It has been a very grueling decision to pick a university, but when I decided on UC Davis it felt right and like a perfect fit, given my major of biological anthropology and UC Davis’s great program. Now I am saddened that the university houses such a close-minded person.
Does he not think that officers are humans just as he is, or you are or I am? They have brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers who are scared everyday they will receive that phone call or home visit that their loved one was just killed. Yet, here is a man who is supposed to be an example for community and progression of education, supporting what’s essentially murder.
I do have one question to pose to the university: How would the university respond if a student was to tweet, post or shout the exact same words as the professors’, but replaced “cops” with “professors” or, more specifically, “UC Davis professors”? Would that student still be in good standing? Would they be given the same lenacy as the professor?
It saddens me how the university does not think about the message it is sending to future students with its lack of action. Personally speaking, it does feel that everything the university said about supporting officers is just a lie when it then decides to do nothing. It does feel as if UC Davis doesn’t truly support officers. Sort of a handshake and a smile while stabbing you in the back.
I would like to say that my choice of UC Davis is still cemented, but the lack of action has definitely shaken my choice. I have fallen in love with the campus and the opportunities available by attending UC Davis, but when the university essentially is saying that a man who would like to see my family killed did nothing wrong, how am I supposed to be okay with that?
JONATHAN SALAS, EAST LOS ANGELES, CA.
The writer is currently a student at East Los Angeles Community College.
To the Editor:
The teachings of professors at world-class research universities such as UC Davis very much affect students’ thoughts and views of society. There are too many instances in which students with mental health issues have snapped under the pressure put on them to excel at the university and have taken their lives or other lives. Irresponsible writings of individuals such as Joshua Clover may encourage some with mental health issues to act out what he espouses.
The university and its employees should be encouraging students to think for themselves. While killing police officers may seem like a viable option to Mr. Clover, he should be strongly advising against such violence to his students and anyone else who reads his writings. It is sad that in his arrogance he expresses no remorse for advocating the death of those who would be first in line to protect him from violent harm.
BEN CHIN, DIXON, CA.
The writer’s career with the University of California began in 1990 as a UC Davis Internal Auditor. He retired from the UC Office of the President, as the Director of Financial Services for Agriculture and Natural Resources, in 2016.
To the Editor:
You support your negative opinion of Professor Clover’s anti-police statements by citing the senseless murder of ONE female officer, and by citing the ACCIDENTAL killing (with a gun stolen from a member of the law enforcement community) of a woman by an illegal immigrant. The former incident is much hyped on the news in order to glean sympathy for police; the latter is much hyped in order to support President Trump’s demagogic hatred of Latinos. However, on the other side of the balance sheet, there is a long, long history of police abuses against minorities and political dissidents. I personally have experience, and much first-hand knowledge, of the absolutely heinous abuses committed by UC (and other) police officers against pro-civil-rights and anti-war protesters in the 60s and 70s. Probably the Occupy demonstrators were treated in much the same manner. Then there are the Black Lives Matter protests. These “incidents” totally justify Professor Clover’s hatred for “duly constituted” authorities. He should be applauded for his honesty and his courage — not castigated.
JOHN MELLENDER, SAN FRANCISCO, CA.
The writer graduated from UC Berkeley in 1984 with a degree in English.
To the Editor:
As a UC Davis alum, it is very disappointing to see the political direction the campus has taken over the 15 years since I graduated. It was never a bastion of moderate thought (much less conservatism), but UC Davis was the less pretentious, more practical and more friendly alternative to places like UC Berkeley, which was what I loved about it. It keep constructing bigger, more lavish buildings and teaching ridiculous things in the liberal arts colleges.
I am the head of a small Christian school just north of Davis, and while I have my diploma framed near my desk, I am having a harder time recommending UCD to high school students and their families. I hope that will change.
On a personal note, we have three students who are related to Officer Natalie Corona. I am not sure what it would take for someone like Clover or the people protecting him to realize how radical and dangerous their thinking is. Hopefully they never need a law enforcement agent to save their lives or protect someone they love.
JUSTIN SMITH, WOODLAND, CA.
The writer graduated from UC Davis in 2004 with a degree in communications and political science.
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