Dear President Yudof, Chancellors, Academic Senate Chairs, and Regents:
We are writing to challenge the appointment of former LAPD Chief William Bratton as head of the review of the unwarranted police brutality on Friday November 18th, 2011, at UC Davis. You state that your intention is to “provide the Chancellor and the entire University of California community with an independent unvarnished report about what happened at Davis.” We find little evidence in Bratton’s professional record, background, or philosophy to support your statement. Instead, we find powerful evidence indicating that Bratton endorses, implements, and promotes the very same militarized security policies responsible for the initial violent suppression of peaceful protesters last week. We also understand he will charge UC for fees (currently “under negotiation”) for his services. Undoubtedly, these fees will be commensurate with his role as CEO of a global security company. We unequivocally reject this appointment on all of these grounds, and propose that there be a more open approach to accepting nominees to help in coordinating—not “leading”--this important investigation. What UC needs here is not a “big name” with high fees and a known philosophy and methodology, but rather somebody who will have greater credibility with the academic and broader community.
Alternative nominations have already come forward of individuals who would not only be less expensive to students already burdened with rising tuition and to the California taxpayers, but also more credible within and beyond the university. We know that there are many others whom members of the UC community could suggest, given the opportunity. See for example Professor Ostertag’s link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-ostertag/uc-davis-protest_b_1103039.html
Currently advisor to the British Coalition government following the August riots, Bratton is applying his ”broken windows” strategy: a zero-tolerance policy initiated while he was Commissioner for the NYPD, 94 – 96. Focused on the rationale that punitive measures for minor crimes and anti-social behavior are the way to address big crime (in the UK 2011, this means punishing British youth he considers “criminal elements”), Bratton’s moralizing “public safety first” rhetoric by dint of increased force articulates precisely the spurious health and safety arguments made to justify the presence and horrifying actions of riot police on the UCD campus.
In an Oct 11th BBC interview, when asked about the need to tackle deeper seated structural problems (poverty, racism), Bratton dismisses these as secondary to the imperative to “attack public safety.”
Despite his intentions, his change of wording from “tackle” to “attack” says it all. UC campuses have already seen more than enough brutal attacks on students through punitive policing for us to know Bratton’s “Supercop” approach is not what we need at this juncture. Bratton’s legacies in New York, and then as Chief of Police in Los Angeles, 2004 – 2009, hold equally worrying messages for young people of color. Through targeting juveniles for anti-social behaviors, Bratton’s ‘quality of life’ round-ups saw intensified harassment of young Latinos and blacks for minor infractions.
And despite Bratton’s rhetoric emphasizing the importance of hiring more police officers of color, without change within the system, police brutality is unlikely to be reduced. On a campus where faculty and students have already registered the downplaying of hate crimes as a persistent problem, Bratton’s cynical approach to improving relations between the police and minoritized subjects makes it clear he is not qualified to lead the proposed review. As Jamilah King puts it, Bratton’s approach simply “puts colorful bandaids on systemic hemorrhages” without any change to the levels of police brutality (colorlines: news for action, August 17th, 2011).
Currently Vice Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, and recently appointed CEO of Altegrity Security Counselling (ASC) at Altegrity Risk International, a global security company, it is little wonder that Security Magazine names him one of 2010’s most influential men in the security industry. His work as CEO for a global security company with 8,000 employees worldwide, the largest commercial provider for background investigations for the government, who supplies criminal justice and law enforcement specialized training solutions, presents an undeniable conflict of interest with his charge to produce “an independent unvarnished report about what happened at Davis.”
At a time when UC is proposing to further raise student fees by 81%; when the bloated salaries and numbers of high level administrators at UCOP are under close scrutiny; when the Occupy Wall Street protesters are demanding change to a system where the 1% help the fellow 1%-ers; when we learn Bratton’s fee is “under negotiation,” we categorically reject your appointment of Bratton. Moreover, we refuse to accept the validity of a report issued by someone so closely linked to the very culture surrounding the incident sparking the investigation itself. This is a case of appointing a fox to guard the henhouse.
Elizabeth Constable, Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies UCD
Susan Kaiser, Professor, Women and Gender Studies UCD
Anna Kuhn, Professor, Women and Gender Studies UCD
Maxine Craig, Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies UCD
Wendy Ho, Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies UCD
Suad Joseph, Professor of Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies UCD
Amina Mama, Director and Chair, Women and Gender Studies UCD
Luz Mena, Assistant Professor, Women and Gender Studies UCD
Kimberly Nettles-Barcelon, Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies UCD
Margaret Swain, Adjunct Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies UCD