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Letters to the Editor: UC doesn’t need police ‘reform,’ it needs cops off its campuses

The UCLA campus in Westwood.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I was happy to see The Times’ coverage of the recent University of California symposium on campus policing. As a lecturer at UC Riverside, I have seen up close how many forms of policing can impact the university and the surrounding communities.

Many of us are specifically calling not for the defunding of the UC campus police departments but for the abolition of policing on campus altogether. Scholars like Angela Davis and Ruth Wilson Gilmore have long argued that abolition is not only about dismantling broken systems but building up meaningful alternatives, as UC Riverside professor Dylan Rodriguez has rightly pointed out.

The collective and community forms of self-defense he references will also require re-imagining the structure of the university itself, including radically opening up access, dramatically decreasing fees and tuition and eliminating student debt.

Getting cops off campus is merely one of the first meaningful steps toward the urgent task of remaking the university.

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Ken Ehrlich, Los Angeles

..

To the editor: What surprised me most about the UC Campus Safety Symposium was its lack of scholarly seriousness. I can hardly fathom being the target of racial profiling and then concluding that police anti-Blackness need merely be reformed.

Speakers also offered shallow and easily disprovable presentations. We heard a history of American police that forgot to mention slave patrols. We heard that a diverse police force would lead to less violence, despite no significant proof. We heard that the problem isn’t the police but the negative perception of police.

We were told that the victims of police violence should empathize with police because empathy is a “two-way street,” falsely equating unequal power dynamics.

Ultimately, I realized that the goal of the symposium was not to protect or persuade my Black students and colleagues or UC Riverside faculty like me; the goal was to be able to say that the UC held a symposium and then change nothing.

Donatella Galella, Riverside


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