Petition demanding professor’s termination signed by 10,000, given to UC Davis officials
California Assemblyman James Gallagher held a press conference outside of Mrak Hall on March 13 demanding the termination of Joshua Clover, a professor of English and comparative literature at UC Davis, over comments he made on his personal Twitter account, which is now private, in 2014, and in a 2016 interview in which he said: “People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed.”
At the event, Gallagher presented the UC Davis administration with a petition with 10,000 signatures demanding the university fire Clover. Also present at the event was the President of the California Police Chiefs Association Ronald Lawrence and Linda Mobilio-Keeling, the widow of Officer Davis Frank Mobilio.
Clover’s comments came to light in an opinion article published in The California Aggie last month. The article, published on Feb. 27, included a couple of Clover’s tweets from 2014 where he wrote, “I am thankful that every living cop will one day be dead.”
The Aggie reached out to Clover for a comment on these sentiments and he responded with this statement: “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.” In response to The Sacramento Bee’s request for comment on the tweets, Clover responded with a different statement: “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.”
UC Davis released a statement which included a statement Provost Ralph Hexter provided to The Aggie which condemned Clover’s statements. The statement addressed the “continued interest” from the public over the matter and clarified that “only the UC Board of Regents can dismiss a tenured faculty member.”
Chancellor Gary May has since asked UC Davis’ legal team to review Clover’s “conduct” and “provide advice on the application of federal and state constitutional protections for freedom of expression.” No official action has yet been taken by the university, and Gallagher addressed this inaction.
“These comments are completely unacceptable,” Gallagher said at the event on March 13. “What we’ve heard from the university is that these are reprehensible comments, we’ve heard that these are abhorrent, but what we haven’t heard yet is that there is no place for these comments at UC Davis.”
Gallagher also criticized the argument that Clover’s comments should be protected under federal and state constitutional protects for freedom of expression. Gallagher claimed that rhetoric which advocates violence is not protected under the First Amendment.
“We believe that the campus community is a place where we should have a diversity of debate,” Gallagher said. “There is room for unpopular opinions to be expressed, but we can not have free speech when people are intimidated. We can’t have free speech when people are being punched in the face on campus for expressing a viewpoint. We can’t have free speech when you invite a speaker to campus and people show up in masks and throw molotov cocktails and beat people and intimidate people, and we certainly can’t have free speech when we have professors calling for the deaths of people they disagree with.”
Gallagher referenced a recent incident where a UC Berkeley student was punched in the face for protesting and holding a sign that read, “this is MAGA country” and “hate crime hoaxes hurt real victims.”
Gallagher also referenced conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, who was scheduled to speak at UC Davis on Jan. 13, 2017. The event was ultimately shut down after a large number of protestors denounced Yiannopoulos’ racist, homophobic and transphobic rhetoric.
Ron Lawrence, the president of the California Police Chiefs Association, also spoke at the press conference. Lawrence represents 332 police chiefs across the state.
“Unfortunately in the United States, violence against police officers has been on the rise,” Lawrence said. “We lost 144 police officers in the line of duty last year. That’s a 14 percent increase from the year before.”
Lawrence called for the university to terminate Clover’s employment, then addressed Clover specifically.
“Mr. Clover, if you’re listening to this, you should hold yourself accountable and do the right thing — resign from your position immediately,” Lawrence said.
Other speakers addressed UC Davis administration and UC Davis regents. Linda Mobilio, the widow of a former police officer killed by a college student in the line of duty in 2002, claimed that her husband’s shooter was influenced by their professors and the university’s environment.
“He was influenced by the people he was learning from and spending his time with,” Mobilio said. “As a result of what he heard, he killed my husband. He shot him in the back.”
Another speaker, UC Davis alumni Cherie Stephens, threatened to stop donating to the university unless the administration terminates Clover’s employment.
“For me, the answer will be no, and it will continue to be no until action is taken,” Stephens said.
Following the press conference, speakers brought boxes of petitions to UC Davis administration in Mrak Hall. One news reporter present at the conference pointed out that any decision regarding termination will likely have to go through the UC Board of Regents, rather than the UC Davis administration, so the petitions might be ineffective. Gallagher responded to this comment saying he didn’t care who’s responsible, “someone has the authority” to terminate Clover “and they certainly can do it.”
“What we want to hear from the university system is that they are going to take action ,” Gallagher said. “And they are going to begin the termination procedures, whatever those are.”
The Davis College Republicans and former ASUCD President Michael Gofman have co-organized the rally “Fire Josh Clover: A Rally Against Violence,” which will take place today.
Written by: Ally Russell — firstname.lastname@example.org