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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Thursday, June 4, 2020

UCLA Faculty Critique of Admin Statement on Violation of Values


TO: Chancellor Gene D. Block, UCLA
 Executive Vice-Chancellor & Provost Emily Carter
Vice Chancellor Michael Beck
Vice Chancellor Jerry Kang

We write in response to your “Violation of Values” Bruinpost of June 3, 2020, regarding LAPD’s use of the Jackie Robinson Stadium as a field jail. We are glad to see that our efforts at shining a light on this incident have led UCLA leadership to reflect on the university’s active collaboration with LAPD including through the use of UCLA facilities by LAPD. We look forward to concrete next steps to ensure the “commitment to equity, diversity, respect and justice” that you foreground in your letter.

But as we noted in our letter of June 3, 2020, it is difficult for us to have confidence in these next steps without knowledge of the full truth. Last evening, the Los Angeles Times published the following: “The LAPD said in a statement late Wednesday that it created a command post in the stadium parking lot on Sunday in preparation for planned demonstration in Westwood the following day. It said the facility had been used ‘for previous city emergencies and was obtained with the approval of the staff’ of UCLA.” We immediately wrote to VC Beck expressing concern that this very disturbing fact had been omitted from his multiple communications with us, despite our request for a full and public accounting of the decisions, permissions, and agreements that enabled the use of the Jackie Robinson Stadium as a field jail.

We include VC Beck’s reply to Professor Roy in its entirety so as to not misrepresent it: “Thank you for sharing your increased frustration in this situation. As I indicated in my earlier email to you today, the letter to you and the other faculty members last night was intended to deal directly with the issue that you raised and social media was questioning with regard to the use of the stadium parking lot as a “field jail.” It was never my intend to mislead you or others by excluding the information with regard to the site being used for a staging area. We have a BruinPost that should be going out any minute, which clearly states that we were aware that the site was being used as a staging site for the LAPD command post as it has been used many times in the past. We acknowledge that such use in this situation was inappropriate and apologize for not being more sensitive to this reality. It is important to clarify a point in the article below, which is that LAPD did not request the use of the property from UCLA. They requested authorization from the VA directly. In the end that is less important since we became aware of the staging site on Monday. In addition, as is customary in the efforts to coordinate with mutual aid police agencies, we had a Lieutenant at the command post during the protest. The lieutenant left prior to LAPD deciding to, without our knowledge or permission, convert the site to a field processing center later in the evening and he was unaware of that use when he left. The LAPD has acknowledge [stet] that they did not tell UCLA that they were going to use the property for processing of arrestees. I am happy to answer other questions so that the record is clear." 

If earlier we were both incredulous and alarmed that you had no knowledge of the field jail, given its scale, scope, and duration, now we are even more incredulous and alarmed. We are incredulous because none of us as faculty would accept from our students the line of argumentation that VC Beck presented to us last evening. If you were aware that the site was being used as a staging site for the LAPD command post, then the omission of this fact from previous communications with us (which included other details of how the site has been used, for example by LAFD) is a violation of the full truth. And we are alarmed that UCLA leadership is unwilling to acknowledge the direct connection between this command post and the subsequent field jail. Are we as scholars under the impression that the police hand out lemonade to protesters at these “staging areas”? Especially troubling is the detail in VC Beck’s email about the role of what we presume is a UCPD Lieutenant, raising question about active UCPD-UCLA collaboration in the policing of protests.

As we noted in our initial letter, such active collaboration with the police state stands in sharp hypocrisy to the statements of solidarity with protest that the UCLA leadership has issued recently. It undermines our confidence in the sentiment expressed in yesterday’s “Violation of Values” post. The withholding of information, in the face of the anguish and trauma of those detained at the Stadium and despite our quest for the full truth, confirms our concerns about the relationship between UCLA and LAPD and extends to UCPD as well. It reminds us why Black, Brown, and Indigenous students, faculty, students, and workers do not feel safe on this campus, and brings us more forcefully to our call to end UCLA’s relationship with LAPD and other police forces.

We once again ask for a public accounting of all communications, permissions, and agreements pertaining to the use of the Jackie Robinson Stadium AND other UCLA facilities as staging areas and command posts by LAPD. We hope that we do not have to spend more time explaining what we mean by the full truth. This should be evident to all parties concerned.

We once again emphasize that if the field jail was LAPD use of property without authorization from the lessee, in this case UCLA, then we expect the university to seek compensation for such use and invest these resources in a manner that provides a modicum of remedy.

In addition, as noted in our letter of June 3, 2020, starting next week, we the UCLA faculty, will form a Divestment Working Group, which will work closely with student and community organizations, with an initial demand that UCLA divest fully from any relationships with LAPD.

Such a Divestment Working Group will build on the long-standing work of departments, centers, and initiatives at UCLA that are already engaged in studying and dismantling structural racism. We will share with you our concrete, actionable recommendations toward implementing the goal of divestment, as well as that of investing in alternatives to policing.

Sincerely,

The Executive Committee of Concerned UCLA Faculty

Ananya Roy
Laura Abrams
Leisy Abrego
Hannah Appel
Sarah Haley
Kelly Lytle Hernández
Grace Kyungwon Hong
Gaye Theresa Johnson
Michael Lens
Shannon Speed
Noah Zatz
Maite Zubiaurre


5 comments:

California Policy Issues said...

Part 1: Comment below divided into parts due to limit on length in comments.

I would be cautious about this matter. First, it is going to get into arcane issues of who ultimately controls the VA property, UCLA (with its lease) or the VA. It also raises the issue of whether under a state of emergency declared by the governor, local police can take over a piece of property, owned by the federal government but leased by a state entity, without anyone's permission. Interesting legal matter, perhaps, but not a high priority (for me). You can find the governor's proclamation here: https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/5.30.20-Los-Angeles-SOE-Proclamation.pdf. There was also a state of emergency declared in LA County. LA Mayor Garcetti called in the National Guard. Whatever UCLA did or didn’t do was in that context.

The chancellor apologized after the fact, most likely to cool things down, not necessarily because he really thinks that in the heat of the moment, someone made the wrong call.

Second, and more important, the issue is linked to "divesting" from the city and UC police department, whatever that means. If UC and UCLA didn't have its own police, the outside local police would be solely in charge. We do have a police department and it has had its racial issues; Google "Judge Cunningham" if you don't know about that affair. However, we are in a large metropolitan area and crime occurs. UCLA is not an island outside of LA. Apart from ordinary crime, from time to time there are demonstration on all kinds of issues. Example: Animal rights demonstrators have sometimes engaged in vandalism and threats against researchers and faculty. So, some entity is going to have to deal with such issues. I suspect that if you talked with the local UC police chief, he would tell you that he cannot function as an island without a link to other police agencies such as the LAPD, the Sheriff's Department, etc. Has anyone talked with him?

Continued below.

California Policy Issues said...

Continued from previous comment:

Third, the divesting from the police issue has been hijacked by folks with "agendas." Below is a link and a quote:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/11gCI2Xl32dcv9kVa32SRInNNM1woOlA8Pxb9Cfidbvo/mobilebasic (downloads very slowly)

===
Justice for Black Lives: Petition to University of California

...'This complicity goes beyond domestic policing. We also call on the UC to divest from companies that profit off of Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine, investments that uphold a system of anti-Black racism in the US. We know the Minneapolis police were also trained by Israeli counter-terrorism officers. The knee-to-neck choke-hold that Chauvin used to murder George Floyd has been used and perfected to torture Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces through 72 years of ethnic cleansing and dispossession. Police departments view Israeli Defense Force tactics as models for responding to “public health and safety crises.”'

'Black people in America have always been treated as “public health and safety crises.” George Floyd was murdered because he was Black; profiled by his neighbors as a criminal, profiled by the police as a threat to be crushed. Police are trained to see Black, Brown, and houseless people as erasable threats on and off UC campuses, to be “warzone” soldiers, colonial forces subduing terrorist enemies or guerillas. We see this in their militarized response to protests for Black lives, to houseless moms, to deaf, disabled, queer and trans folk, to ICE collusion. Neocolonial state violence extends from the US, to Israel, to the Philippines, to the UCs. The complicity of the UC system with Israeli settler colonization is directly tied to its complicity with the American lynching, settler and imperial state. We demand an end to this complicity.'

'Even more than complicity, the UC has taken active steps to protect its colonial investment in and occupation of the Indigenous sacred ground of Mauna Kea (Kanaka Maoli land, Hawai’i) through force and intimidation. In California the UC system treats Black and Brown people like colonial subjects. Only months ago, it contracted with police forces from Oakland and other cities to violently suppress graduate student protests for a cost-of-living adjustment. American police forces are waging a war on Black people, and the UC does not hesitate to channel police expertise and violence against students when it deems them as domestic terrorists or threats. ...'

===

Let's just say I would not respect anyone who signed on to the first paragraph quoted above. I might excuse such a signer on grounds of ignorance. Maybe. As to the third paragraph, I can only say that after talking to a couple of colleagues in astronomy, they strongly disagree.

===
Continued below:

California Policy Issues said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
California Policy Issues said...

Part 3 from prior comments (typo corrected):

A final word: We are in a very volatile national situation. Really bad things could happen. Actions and statements could have consequences. Things that seem OK in the bubble of academia and the heat of the moment may look very differently from outside. I was disappointed, for example, to see some folks from the UCLA health and public health community seeming to downplay the coronavirus risks of the current mass demonstrations in a public statement. Despite all the rationales in their statement, from outside it looked like hypocrisy. See "The Protesters Deserve the Truth About the Coronavirus: Public-health experts should strive to provide a neutral accounting of risk": https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/protests-carry-risk-even-when-theyre-justified/612652/ (There is a link to the statement and names in this article.)

Enough said.

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