University of California, Davis: Investigation into Professor’s Commentary about Police

Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: University of California, Davis

In February 2019, anti-police tweets and comments by University of California, Davis (UC Davis) professor Joshua Clover from 2014 and 2016 surfaced. Among other comments, Clover had written, “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.” While UC Davis Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Dana Topousis stated that “[p]ublic statements like those made by Professor Clover are accorded a high level of protection under the First Amendment,” a March 5 ABC 10 article reported that the university was investigating Clover’s statements.

FIRE wrote to UC Davis on March 8, 2019, reminding Chancellor Gary May that, if the report of the university’s investigation is accurate, the First Amendment limits the disciplinary consequences that a public university may impose on a professor for speech expressed in his private capacity on matters of public concern, which include even hostile comments about law enforcement. On March 17, UC Davis notified FIRE that the university had not opened an investigation into Clover and reaffirmed the university’s commitment to free expression.