Statement on Oct. 25 Event Cancellation

 

Updated 5:30 p.m. Oct. 26


On Tuesday evening (Oct. 25), an event organized by a registered student organization affiliate, Turning Point USA at UC Davis, featuring Stephen Davis, was canceled before the speaker began his remarks. Outside the venue, about 100 protesters and counterprotesters — including some who, according to reports, wore apparel labeled Proud Boys — fought among themselves, used pepper spray, knocked over barricades and removed traffic cones. Some witnesses reported antifa supporters contributed to the fighting and pepper spraying, as well. Some in the crowd used barricades to beat on the glass of the UC Davis Conference Center, where about 30 people were inside waiting for the event to begin. UC Davis police were not deployed. No UC Davis staff used pepper spray. UC Davis Student Affairs staff and civilian security were inside and outside the event.

The students who organized the event agreed to cancel the remarks out of concern for safety. Staff from Student Affairs on-site agreed that there was grave danger should the event continue.

It is unfortunate that the event could not proceed as planned. As a public institution, UC Davis values and supports freedom of expression as rights guaranteed to every citizen. When the students agreed to cancel the event, UC Davis Student Affairs staff successfully evacuated the students and speaker from the building.

The health and the well-being of our community is our priority. In preparing for tonight’s speaker and activities, we worked with the students to create a secure environment, including a safety plan, where freedom of speech could be exercised, including for those wishing to protest the speaker. UC Davis Student Affairs staff attended the event to provide education about student expression and to encourage respectful and productive dialogue.

Calls for harm to others or acts of violence are not protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Teaching and learning are integral to the academic mission of our university. This includes creating an environment conducive to the discussion of diverse ideas and points of view. We support students’ rights to bring speakers to campus. Our Principles of Community best reflect the ideals we seek to uphold.

As a public university, we are committed to the First Amendment, and we are required to uphold it. We affirm the right of our students — in this instance, Turning Point USA at UC Davis — to invite speakers to our campus, just as we affirm the right of others to protest speakers whose views they find upsetting or offensive.

We are dedicated to the pursuit of deeper understanding through the free, open and civil exchange of ideas.

If you, or if someone you know, is negatively impacted by this event, we have resources available to students, faculty and staff if support is needed.

 

Update 5:30 p.m. Oct. 26

We have heard people ask why the police were not deployed last night. The UC Davis police were on site, following the safety plan they had developed before the event in conjunction with Student Affairs. They set up the perimeter around the building so event attendees could enter the building safely. They brought in private security to manage building access. This front-line security protected the scene throughout the evening.

As is the UC Davis Police Department's practice, they worked with Student Affairs to monitor the protest in real time and make decisions quickly. They were on stand-by when fighting broke out, but the situation de-escalated on its own, eliminating the need for the police to engage. No serious injuries were reported.

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