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Professor at California's Cypress College on leave after berating student who calls police 'heroes'

Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — An adjunct professor at Cypress College has been placed on leave after challenging a student who praised the police as heroes in a recorded Zoom class that since has gone viral.

Braden Ellis, 19, was in the process of telling his intro-level communications class that "cops are heroes, and they ... have a difficult job," when his professor interrupts to ask: "All of them?"

"A good majority of them," Ellis replies. He then tries to say there are some bad actors before the professor — who has not been identified — cuts in again.

"A lot of police officers have committed atrocious crimes and have gotten away with it, and have never been convicted of any of it," she says, adding, "and I say this as a person who has family members who are police officers."

Later in the conversation, the professor pushes back on Ellis' claim that the police are whom we call when we're in trouble. She says she wouldn't call the police: "I don't trust them. My life's in more danger in their presence."

When pressed about whom she'd call if faced with an armed attacker, she says, "I wouldn't call anybody."


The professor's absence will last for the duration of her assignment at the college in northwestern Orange County, according to a statement released by Cypress College on Friday.

"We are reviewing the full recording of the exchange between the adjunct professor and the student and will address it fully in the coming days," school officials said in the statement.

It was the instructor's first class at the college and she previously had indicated she would not return in the fall, according to the statement.

Ellis, a freshman, told the Orange County Register that he was giving a presentation on the term "cancel culture" before his professor began speaking about systemic issues underpinning policing, including saying it originated as a system to capture runaway slaves in the South.


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