News and Commentary

California Prof’s Remarks About Killing Cops Come To Light After Local Female Cop Is Gunned Down

A University of California, Davis, professor who has stated in the past that police officers should be killed and tweeted “it’s easier to shoot cops when their backs are turned” was finally criticized by the university for his remarks one month after a young female police officer from Davis was shot and killed in the line of duty.

University of California, Davis literature professor Joshua Clover’s past history was brought to the university’s attention after comparative literature student Nick Irvin, outraged by the death of police officer Natalie Corona, exposed Clover’s remarks in an op-ed in The California Aggie. The University released a statement reading, “We find it unconscionable that anyone would condone much less appear to advocate murder. A young police officer has been killed serving the city of Davis. We mourn her loss.”

In his op-ed, Irvin wrote:

I first heard about a UC Davis professor who thinks cops should be killed late in Fall Quarter. There were murmurings in the newsroom about his in-class discussions, and rumors of how the professor had given an interview that advocated for violence against law enforcement. It bothered me, but I assumed that what I heard was typical hearsay and likely exaggerated. I wasn’t shown anything concrete; there were no words to read, no sound-bites to parse over. The story seemed too extreme to be believed, because only the intellectually dishonest would even broach such blanketed and violent sentiments — certainly not a highly-regarded professor at a top public university. But I kept the rumors at the back of my mind.

The killing of Natalie Corona changed everything. Corona, an up-and-coming Davis police officer who was gunned down last month, was the type of person who makes labelling all law enforcement as “bad” a simple exercise in fallacy. By all accounts, she was a kind and considerate person who cared deeply about the community she served. She was pictured giving a bag of must-haves to a former resident of Paradise over the holidays. She reportedly gave a man she arrested a few dollars so he could buy a meal when he was released …

In a community that’s just witnessed an ambush-style cop killing, the downsides were next to none; we ought to know what our professors think and say on the public record.

Irvin continued that he and a colleague browsed Twitter and also found a 2016 interview Clover had; they found a November 27, 2014 tweet reading, “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,” another tweet from December 27, 2014, that read, “I mean, it’s easier to shoot cops when their backs are turned, no?” and this quote from a January 2016 interview: “People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed.”

Irvin wrote that he contacted university officials, but their response was to simply condemn Clover’s remarks:

I contacted the administration a few days after the shooting for a response to Clover’s past threats, namely his assertion that cops “need to be killed.” Dana Topousis, the university’s chief marketing and communications officer, sent me an emailed statement indicating that Clover’s comment was reprehensible, but didn’t warrant further action: “The UC Davis administration condemns the statement of Professor Clover to which you refer. It does not reflect our institutional values, and we find it unconscionable that anyone would condone much less appear to advocate murder. A young police officer has been killed serving the City of Davis. We mourn her loss and express our gratitude to all who risk their lives protecting us. We support law enforcement, and the UC Davis Police Department and Chief Joe Farrow have been and remain critical partners to our community.”

Irvin wrote that he also emailed Irvin to speak with him; he said Clover responded, “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.”

FOX40 contacted Clover for comment. He responded, “”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. Until then I have nothing further to add.”

Irvin wrote in his op-ed that Clover was “one of three co-founders of Commune Editions, a publisher specializing in anarchist and communist poetry, and a contributing editor for Commune Magazine, a quarterly magazine ‘found wherever enemies of the current order gather.’”

Irvin wrote that he met with university provost Ralph Hexter; he quoted Hexter saying that although he found Clover’s remarks “odious,” he also stated, “The basis for academic freedom is to make sure that the university is a place where unpopular and different views are heard. I think that teaching controversial subjects is always a challenge, and you have to maintain a space as a faculty member so that views you might very much disagree with can be expressed by the students, be respected and be challenged, but according to bases in fact and logic,” adding, “Our practice has not been to discipline people for things that they say outside the university.”

In the 2016 interview, Clover was asked, “If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?” He answered, “Capitalism.”