Comments by a UC Davis English professor several years ago reportedly saying he believes police officers “need to be killed” have gained attention since the shooting death of Davis police Officer Natalie Corona.
Joshua Clover, a professor of English and Comparative Literature, tweeted in 2014, “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,” according to UC Davis’ college newspaper The California Aggie.
On his now-private Twitter account, he also reportedly tweeted, “I mean, it’s easier to shoot cops when their backs are turned, no?”
Clover also responded to an SF Weekly interview question in 2015 asking him what he believed what was wrong with society. He replied, “People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed.”
Although Clover’s remarks are years old, they resurfaced in classroom discussions and on campus in late 2018, according to The Aggie.
“The UC Davis administration condemns the statement of Professor Clover,” read a statement to The Sacramento Bee from UC Davis spokeswoman Dana Topousis. “It does not reflect our institutional values and we find it unconscionable that anyone would condone much less appear to advocate murder.”
In their criticism of Clover, UC Davis officials in the statement made reference to the slaying of Davis Officer Corona, who was killed Jan. 10 after responding to a traffic accident in downtown Davis. The gunman, Kevin Douglas Limbaugh, was found dead inside a home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“A young police officer has been killed serving the City of Davis,” read the statement from Topousis. “We mourn her loss and express our gratitude to all who risk their lives protecting us.”
Topousis said in an email to The Bee that the university has not received any complaints regarding Clover indicating a possible violation of the Faculty Code of Conduct.
“Public statements like those made by Professor Clover are accorded a high level of protection under the First Amendment.,” she said.
UC Davis police Chief Joe Farrow called Clover’s comments “disappointing.” Farrow said he had heard about the comments in previous weeks, but said no context was given.
“Our officers are dedicated professionals who have and will continue to rise above calls for violence against them,” Farrow said. “Nonetheless, it’s regrettable they have to endure such vile hatred. I always try to remain positive, and we are keenly aware of what’s going on in the nation with the perception of law enforcement. We try to understand the criticism and build upon that. It’s a reminder to myself that there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Clover is on medical leave, but responded by email to a request for comment.
“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,” Clover said.
The Bee reached out to the UC Davis Office of the Chancellor and Provost, but they did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Clover is a published author, with work focusing on critical theory, political economy, poetry and Marxism. His book reviews appeared in The New York Times in 2006.
Clover has made national headlines before. In 2012, he and 11 UC Davis students held a sit-in to protest the university’s financial arrangements with U.S. Bank.
They were known as the Davis Dozen or the Banker’s Dozen, and were each charged with 21 counts related to their sit-in at the bank for obstructing movement in a public place. They accepted a plea deal from the Yolo County District Attorney, and agreed to community service.
In 2009, NPR’s “All Things Considered” reported that Clover was among more than 1,000 UC faculty members and students planning a walkout over a tuition hike and furloughs.
Clover also was quoted in a Bee story in 2016 about a split between science and humanities faculty over the future of then-Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, who was under fire for several board positions she held outside the university. Clover was among 20 humanities professors who signed a letter calling for Katehi’s resignation.