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‘He should be fired’: Lawmaker’s resolution urges dismissal of UC Davis prof over cop comments

See what UC Davis professor’s anti-police posts said

A UC Davis English professor’s previous online comments stating he believes police officers “need to be killed” have gained attention since the shooting death of Davis police officer Natalie Corona.
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A UC Davis English professor’s previous online comments stating he believes police officers “need to be killed” have gained attention since the shooting death of Davis police officer Natalie Corona.

Weeks after a UC Davis professor’s past comments about police officers stirred controversy, a resolution has been introduced in the California Legislature to call for his removal. But the UC administration says not much can be done.

English professor Joshua Clover made headlines last month for reportedly tweeting years ago that he was “thankful that every living cop will one day be dead.”

Clover also responded to an SF Weekly interview question in 2015 asking him what he believed was wrong with society. He replied, “People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed.”

When Clover’s comments came to light last month, UC officials condemned them in a statement to The Sacramento Bee. But they said such public comments have strong protections under the First Amendment.

The university said in a statement on its website in early March that it had fielded questions from the public about why Clover continued to work at UC Davis. “Only the UC Board of Regents can dismiss a tenured faculty member,” the statement said. “This must be done by a vote of the board upon recommendation by the University of California president, following consultation with the chancellor.”

Chancellor Gary S. May has asked the campus legal team to review the professor’s conduct, according to the statement.

Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, in late February started an online petition to pressure the UC system to fire Clover. He told The Bee on Wednesday he delivered more than 10,000 signatures to UC Davis last week.

“We are building the pressure on the university system to do the right thing,” he said.

Gallagher also introduced a resolution, HR 22, in the Legislature last week urging the UC Board of Regents to remove the tenured professor.

The resolution states that Clover’s statements are not protected speech under the First Amendment, because they incite violence.

The measure has not been discussed or voted on. Gallagher said he expects it to go to the Assembly floor within two or three weeks.

“There should be no reason why anyone would oppose this resolution,” Gallagher said. “These comments are abhorrent, and they have no place in our UC system. He should be fired.”

If approved, the recommendation will be sent directly to the regents’ office. A resolution does not require Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature.

The UC Davis professor’s comments received additional scrutiny because of the slaying of Davis police Officer Natalie Corona, who was killed Jan. 10 after responding to a traffic accident in downtown Davis. The gunman, Kevin Douglas Limbaugh, was later found dead inside a home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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Sawsan Morrar covers school accountability and culture for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in Sacramento and is an alumna of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She previously freelanced for various publications including The Washington Post, Vice, KQED and Capital Public Radio.
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