Calif police chief, lawmaker want prof who called for killing police officers to be dismissed

Now, a police chief is speaking out, calling into question not just the professor's statements, but also the whole concept of tenure.

A University of California, Davis professor said cops "need to be killed" and noted that he was "thankful" when they died.

Local law enforcement and lawmakers are putting pressure on the University of California, Davis to dismiss a professor who has repeatedly advocated for violence against police officers.  

In February, it was revealed that UC Davis English professor Joshua Clover tweeted messages such as “I am thankful that every living cop will one day be dead, some by their own hand, some by others, too many of old age #letsnotmakemore” and “I mean, it’s easier to shoot cops when their backs are turned, no?” 

Separately, in a 2015 interview, Clover told, “People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed.”

After the professor's past comments made headlines in February, Ron Lawrence, the police chief of the nearby community of Citrus Heights, teamed up with California Assemblyman James Gallagher to deliver almost 10,000 petitions to the Chancellor’s office calling for Clover’s dismissal.

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Campus Reform spoke to Chief Lawrence about why he believes Clover’s dismissal is necessary for the community.  

“Mr. Clover’s call for violence and advocating the death of police officers is reprehensible and inexcusable,” the chief said. “A person in a position of influence should be held accountable for making reckless statements that are harmful to others.”

“As an American citizen, I enjoy free speech like everyone else, but as a police chief, I have a responsibility and accountability for what I say,” Lawrence told Campus Reform. “In other words, I can say what I want to, but not hold the position I do without accountability. Why should a university professor have more protections to exert their violent opinions than any other person in a position of trust, such as school teachers, doctors, or police officers?”

The police chief went on to assert that the school needs “to have better leadership and do what is necessary to hold Mr. Clover accountable,” adding that he is “confident that the University of California system has a disciplinary system to hold their employees accountable.”

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When asked by Campus Reform if he believes the situation with Clover is evidence that anti-cop rhetoric is becoming more normalized in America, the police chief responded “normalized is not the term I would use,” adding that “unfortunately, anti-rhetoric of all sorts has become more prevalent with the advent of social media.”

“Social media offers a very public platform for anyone to espouse their opinions, even if misguided. The difference, in this case, is that Mr. Clover holds a position of trust, and therefore should be held accountable to a higher standard,” Lawrence clarified.

The police chief stressed to Campus Reform the need for members of society to debate issues, but maintain a level of decency while doing so.

Lawrence concluded by reiterating that UC Davis needs to take quick and decisive action. 

“The University should make clear that this behavior is unacceptable,” he told Campus Reform, adding that “the notion that they cannot discipline him because he is a ‘tenured professor’ is unacceptable” and going so far as to say that the term “tenured professor” is “an antiquated concept that should be changed to ensure that regardless of time-in-grade, an individual can and must be held accountable for their behavior.”

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Campus Reform reached out to UC Davis for comment but did not receive a response.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter:  @celinedryan