‘UCLA puts lives in danger’: Student paper releases scathing editorial about campus threat

The UCLA campus on  Jan. 7.
The UCLA campus on Jan. 7.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Feb. 2. I’m Justin Ray.

The UCLA campus was on edge after a former lecturer sent a video referencing a mass shooting and an 800-page manifesto with “specific threats” to members of the university’s community.

Several emails from department leaders that were obtained by The Times informed students and faculty that Matthew Harris made threats toward members of the philosophy department.

On Tuesday, Harris was taken into custody peacefully at 11:07 a.m. after a three-hour-long barricaded standoff at his Colorado apartment, Boulder police said. Authorities released other information about Harris’ prior offenses.

The threat came after students staged a sit-in to demand continued online learning options. UCLA will resume in-person classes Wednesday, but not everyone is satisfied with how the threat was handled.


Criticism of the university’s handling of the incident

Reports about the threat appeared on social media platforms before school officials made public statements, leading students and others to criticize the university for not responding quickly.

In fact, the campus paper, The Daily Bruin, released a scathing editorial titled “UCLA puts lives in danger through failure to communicate timely amid threat.” It begins by stating that while teaching undergraduates, Harris was placed on leave in the spring and had previously displayed “erratic behavior and posted worrying activity online. Notably, he was suspected of sending pornography to a previous student.”

“After these threats and problematic actions toward UCLA community members, it is reasonable to expect the university to quickly provide students some semblance of safety or initiative,” the editorial reads. “Instead, UCLA announced hours after the initial news broke that classes will be online Tuesday. Some professors even neglected to change teaching plans before the announcement, expecting students to carry on without concern.”

“Make no mistake: This is a legitimate threat to campus. It is impossible to justify in-person activities when the risk of a mass shooting exists,” the editorial states. “Students should not have to scour the internet for information on what is or isn’t safe during an emergency.”

When asked about the editorial, the university did not respond to a Times inquiry.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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L.A. Times announces newsroom reorganization and promotions. Shelby Grad, who has served as California and Metro editor since 2014, will take on a new role as deputy managing editor for news. He will be joined by B.J. Terhune, who will become the assistant managing editor for news. Hector Becerra will become deputy managing editor for California and Metro. Los Angeles Times

Why doesn’t L.A. have piles of garbage on the sidewalks? Many years of fighting. “Embarrassingly, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, as other people in the nation were fighting the good fight for racial justice, official L.A. was waging a pitched battle over the city’s trash,” Patt Morrison writes. Los Angeles Times

The Triforium in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

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Nearly three years after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that halted executions in California, the state is accelerating an effort to move incarcerated people off death row and into other prisons. That effort, called the Condemned Inmate Transfer Pilot Program, has moved more than 100 people off death row at San Quentin State Prison and the Central California Women’s Facility and into other locations, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Los Angeles Times

Lawmakers declined to vote on a high-profile effort to overhaul California’s healthcare system, putting an end to a proposal that would have guaranteed medical coverage to every resident by levying billions in new taxes. Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Hey, politicians, if you make a rule you’ve got to follow it too. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were photographed without masks during Sunday’s NFC championship game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. “Newsom and Garcetti say they removed their masks only for photos, which is impossible to verify. And we have to ask, in all seriousness, what were they thinking?” Los Angeles Times

Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a press conference.
Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a press conference after taking a tour of the site of a behavioral health and transitional housing facility on Imperial Highway.
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)


A man who died when a bomb he allegedly crafted blew up near two Antioch schools had survived an eerily similar incident in 2012 at his home, according to authorities. The man, identified by police as 62-year-old Frank Trout, was found dead from self-inflicted injuries after the bomb went off, police said Monday. In 2012, Trout was arrested after a pipe bomb he crafted in his garage exploded, seriously injuring him. Trout, an Antioch native, was self-employed and had been a longtime usher at a local Catholic church. East Bay Times

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Omicron hit Southern California much harder than the Bay Area. Here’s why. In the latest coronavirus wave, the Bay Area has fared relatively better, compared to Southern California. Our reporters have found some reasons to account for the difference in outcomes. Los Angeles Times

A patient  in Providence Holy Cross Medical Center  in Mission Hills
A patient in Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.
(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)


Family-owned Sai’s Vietnamese Restaurant ordered to vacate after nearly 40 years in San Francisco. Inmy Chi says their landlord initially emailed her in early January asking if she wanted to renew the lease. “We emailed them back on Jan. 20, but we didn’t hear from them. We called and called and on Jan. 25, they answered and said they wanted us to leave,” Chi says. San Francisco Gate reached out to their landlord SHVO for comment, but the agency abruptly ended the call. However, elected San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin said he and his team “are working on resources to help where we can.” SFGATE

The wife of a Coronado city official was fired from her job Monday and he was placed on leave after a video surfaced on social media alleging that they made racist comments during an argument over the weekend. The allegations arose from a video that shows Roger Miller, Coronado’s director of recreation and golf services, and a woman who was later identified as his wife, Sandra Miller, arguing with someone who was not on the video. “The statements made by Ms. Miller do not reflect the beliefs of Linfield, are inconsistent with Linfield’s mission statement and fail to meet the behavior Linfield expects employees to model for its students,” a statement from Officials at the Linfield Christian School read. They also said they immediately terminated Sandra Miller’s employment after speaking with her. Her position there was not specified. San Diego Union-Tribune

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Today’s California memory is from Kenneth Wong:

I was a freshman engineering student at UCLA in September 1965 and little did I know what would await me. We beat No. 1 Michigan State in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day and celebrated by having classes canceled on the following Monday. We won the first of seven consecutive NCAA National Championships in basketball under Coach John Wooden while I was an undergraduate and then a graduate student. It got to the point where March Madness was called the UCLA Invitational. I was naive enough to think that this would happen every year. It wasn’t until much later in life that I learned to appreciate what had happened in those years at UCLA.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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