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Friday, June 12, 2020

Friday, June 12, 2020

Faculty Demand that UCLA Divest Immediately from Police After LAPD Uses Jackie Robinson Stadium as Field Jail

A newly formed group, the DIVEST/ INVEST UCLA Faculty Collective, submitted a letter to the Chancellor of UCLA today demanding immediate divestment from all police and law enforcement agencies. This letter was signed by the 33 members of the collective and is co-signed by 214 other faculty.

The Divestment Now Demands letter urges Chancellor Gene Block to commit immediately to “end [UCLA’s] relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department and other county, state, and federal police departments and security agencies, including but not limited to the LA Sheriff’s Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Santa Monica Police Department, Department of Homeland Security, and ICE.”

It also demands that UCLA defund UCPD and “replace it with anti-carceral forms of accountability, including restorative and transformative justice and community-led public safety.”

This letter stands in support of demands for action put forward by Black students and Black faculty at UCLA. Professor Kelly Lytle Hernández, Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and a member of the DIVEST/ INVEST UCLA Faculty Collective stated: “The uprising for Black life is knocking on UCLA’s door and it has yet to answer.” She urged UCLA leadership to “meet the historic opportunity for systemic change by divesting from white supremacy and investing in Black life.”

The DIVEST/INVEST UCLA Faculty Collective is made up of faculty who played a key role in exposing LAPD’s recent use of UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium as a field jail for detaining protesters and processing arrests. When faculty wrote to UCLA leadership in protest, UCLA leadership initially claimed to have had no knowledge of LAPD’s use of the stadium, only to acknowledge later that they did know that it was to be used as a “staging area,” though not as a field jail. In the Divestment Now Demands letter, UCLA faculty insist that UCLA take accountability for having aided the field jail and point out that “as long as UCLA collaborates with LAPD and other police forces, it is complicit in, and bears responsibility for, police brutality and racialized state violence.”

Joining a UC-wide and national movement, the UCLA faculty call for the university to step up to the moment and commit to abolition as part of its commitments as a public university. This includes reinvesting the university’s resources toward research and teaching, especially in the areas of racial justice, supporting Black students, faculty, staff, and workers at UCLA, as well as the Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities impacted by police violence.

Sarah Haley, (203) 675-3653, sahaley@gmail.com
Ananya Roy, (510) 316-7731, ananyaucla@gmail.com

Photo Credit: Courthouse News



California Policy Issues said...

Part 1: Comment split into 3 parts due to limit in length.

Comment: (Originally posted June 6, 2020)
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.

California Policy Issues said...

Part 2: 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 demonstrations 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?

California Policy Issues said...

Part 3: 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.
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. -Dan Mitchell

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