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Davis, California

Monday, May 27, 2024

Lengthy discussion over Police Disarmament resolution ensues at May 16 Senate Meeting

After SR #14 passed, Judicial Council issues temporary injunction

An estimated 20 members of the public voiced their opinions on Senate Resolution #14, which calls for the disarmament of the UC Davis police, at the May 16 ASUCD Senate meeting. The discussion over the resolution lasted approximately two and a half hours.

The resolution, which is non-binding, was ultimately passed in a 7-6 vote after ASUCD Vice President Shreya Deshpande cast the tie-breaking vote. Since the meeting, however, the ASUCD Judicial Council has placed a temporary injunction on the resolution after the Davis College Republicans sued the Association to block the bill.

Those who spoke at the May 16 Senate meeting, including senators and other members of the Senate table, professed a range of perspectives and opinions regarding whether or not UC Davis police should be disarmed.

The author of the resolution, Blu Buchanan, began the conversation for those in support of disarmament. They spoke about the importance of taking the time to understand the evidence. Buchanan cited the resolution as appearing in a larger conversation — those who choose to take part in this conversation bring different experiences to campus and doing something such as disarming the police is a common measure, not a radical idea.

A member of the campus community mentioned an argument related to mental health, stating that those who suffer mental illnesses are more likely to be killed or brutalized by the police. They added that police approach people of color with unnecessary violence, which in turn creates further problems for those with mental illnesses within these communities.

Another member of the community mentioned the recent bookstore incident, stating that

disarming the police is not enough due to the fact that during the incident no weapons were used, but the woman in question was still brutalized by UC Davis police.

External Affairs Commission Chair Nayzak Wali-Ali said UC Davis Chief of Police Joseph Farrow spoke to them about the decreasing crime rates in Davis. Wali-Ali noted that guns were not used to decrease crimes, so the notion that guns are necessary to reduce crime rates is not accurate.

Wali-Ali also mentioned that passing the resolution would not alienate the UC Davis Police Department, as Farrow has been very open to the discussion and open to working with students to ensure their safety, with or without weapons.

Another argument in favor of police disarmament presented at the meeting asserted that the institution of the police was originally created to protect property and not people. Speakers cited court cases such as the Parkland shooting, where a court ruled that the officer on site had no legal obligation to protect the students. The member of the community cited Professor and Associate Dean at the University of Florida School of Law, Darren L. Hutchinson, who said, “Neither the constitution, nor the state law, impose a general duty upon police officers or other governmental officials to protect individual persons from harm, even when they know harm will occur.”

An additional argument in support of disarmament contended that police jobs were originally created to uphold white supremacy and target people of color.

Arguments were also heard from those in opposition to the resolution.

Senator Rebecca Gonzalez asked why the text of the resolution had not changed, given that when the resolution came before the Senate the first time, there were members of the Senate table in support of disarmament who took issue with some of the language present.

Gonzalez asked why there was no compromise over wording. Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission Chair Rina Singh and Wali-Ali responded, saying they made a note about the conversation they had had with Gonzalez. Ultimately, after feedback from others, Singh and Wali-Ali decided that changing the wording would dilute the resolution.

Senator Andre Spinoglio vocally clarified his stance on the issue, saying that he felt uncomfortable signing his name onto a resolution with what he felt to be factual errors. Citing lines eight through 10 and 46-50, Spinoglio said he does not see an increase in militarization and said that while he does not refute the facts that minorities are being abused, he still believes there are untrue portions of the resolution.

Senator Ricky Zapardiel expressed concern over alienating the police department, stating that the resolution tells police officers their work does not matter. Zapardiel made it clear he is not for the militarization of the police, but the language in the resolution is too extreme and hasty. He said that it is not his intention to dismiss anyone’s opinion, but that he feels it is his duty to protect the student population.

Others present voiced concerns that the resolution does not address the core of the negative aspects of the police and others expressed concern about alienating the police and creating a “we-versus-them” attitude. Some called for tangible measures to decrease acts of police brutality, such as further trainings in de-escalation tactics.

Civil discourse was also a topic during the meeting. One member of the community mentioned that a conversation cannot be started if both sides attack each other, saying arguing will not fix anything.

During the conversation, Zapardiel recorded someone who spoke in favor of the resolution. The individual being recorded brought it to the attention of the Senate and Deshpande asked Zapardiel to delete the video, but he said his ability to record was his constitutional right given that the meeting was a public event. Deshpande later assured those who were being recorded that they would deal with the problem.

Later in the meeting, many of the people at the table expressed their discontent with the behavior and actions of Zapardiel, including the possibility of having a closed session and “censuring” a member of the association. A censure is when a collective body decides to condemn the actions or repeated behavior of an individual.

During a mock vote midway through the discussion, the Senate was split 5-5, with Senators Tony Chen and Rebecca Gonzalez both abstaining. Later, Chen voted in favor and Gonzalez voted against the resolution. Deshpande cast the tie-breaking vote and the resolution was passed.

After the resolution passed, the ASUCD Senate meeting continued, ultimately adjourning at 12:02 a.m.

Following the May 16 Senate meeting, the Davis College Republicans issued a formal complaint with the ASUCD Judicial Council on the basis that the author of the resolution is not a member of ASUCD. In a statement, the Judicial Council issued a temporary injunction, stating the claims are “of lawful concern.”

Written by: Alexis Lopez — campus@theaggie.org


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