By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – The show went on. That was the thrust of UC Davis’ focus.
In a release from the University, they noted, “Tonight’s event organized by Turning Point USA at UC Davis, a registered student organization, occurred with minor incidents.”
The university reported, “One officer sustained an injury when he was jumped on from behind and pushed to the ground, and two people were arrested and taken to Yolo County Jail for allegedly painting graffiti on an exterior wall of the University Credit Union Center, or UCUC, where the event was held.”
One of those taken into custody, who is not affiliated with UC Davis, was charged with misdemeanor vandalism and resisting arrest, and the other, who had not been identified, was charged with vandalism, resisting arrest and threats on a police officer.
The university added, “Protesters approached the northeast entrance and broke 10 glass panes in the doors but did not gain access to the building and left the area. No arrests were made related to the breaking of the glass.”
Inside the event the show went on. UC Davis didn’t mention that, after being criticized in October, this time police were there in riot gear. But the security planning “allowed the students to successfully hold their event. Their invited speaker, Charlie Kirk, took the stage in front of an audience of about 500 people.”
Aside from pepper spray reports, no major physical injuries were reported, and no one requested treatment for injuries.
The university was caught off-guard when a violent clash broke out in October forcing the cancellation of the event rather than risk any further escalation. No such problem happened this time.
CBS in Sacramento reported that “Hundreds of protesters converged on the UC Davis campus Tuesday night as a highly-charged speaking event brought out conservatives, liberals and what appeared to be Antifa activists.”
At a counterprotest, former Mayor Gloria Partida and founder of the Davis Phoenix Coalition explained that the kind of speech by Kirk goes too far.
“There’s a line that’s crossed, I think, when it becomes weaponized to oppress other people and, frankly, put other people in danger,” she said.
From the university’s perspective, the point of emphasis was “free speech.”
The university said, “As a public university, we must uphold the right to free speech, as guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, even when that speech may be hateful, offensive or abusive.”
They added, “Our campus’s Principles of Community affirm the right of freedom of expression within our community, including the right to protest speech we oppose. UC Davis is committed to supporting a campus environment that is inclusive and respectful to people of all backgrounds and dedicated to the pursuit of deeper understanding through the free and civil exchange of ideas.”
Chancellor Gary May took the issue seriously enough that he released a four-minute video on Tuesday defending the University’s decision. The video had been viewed 6800 times as of this publication with more than 100 comments.
May pulled no punches in calling Kirk “a well-documented proponent of misinformation and hate and has advocated for violence against transgender individuals.” He took a stand against “this hateful and divisive messaging.”
He notes that TPUSA, as a registered student organization, has the right to reserve university facilities and invite speakers of their choice, and that the university faces a heavy burden under UC policy to deny such requests over concerns of violence.
While the policy does allow for a denial of a request if the speaker presents a “clear and present danger to the campus,” the campus “carries a heavy burden for such a denial under these circumstances.”
He said, “In short, while I abhor the inflammatory speech of this speaker, UC policy permits the student organization to invite this speaker.”