February 12, 2022

USA: A Black Former UCLA Philosophy Professor Posted An 800-Page Manifesto With Anti-Semitic, Anti-Asian Slurs, "Make Columbine And 9/11 Look Like Dress Rehearsals." Arrested In Colorado.

CBS Denver published February 1, 2022: Former UCLA Instructor Matthew Harris Arrested In Boulder After Extensive Police Operation. Police in Boulder say they arrested a man on Tuesday morning who is suspected of making threats against UCLA. Matthew Harris is a former instructor in the school’s philosophy department, according to UCLA’s school newspaper the Daily Bruin.
CBS Denver published February 1, 2022: Former UCLA Instructor Matthew Harris Arrested In Boulder, Faces Federal Charges. Federal charges are now pending against Matthew Harris after he allegedly made threats and was arrested in Boulder. On one page of the manifesto Harris writes, "Make Columbine and 9/11 look like dress rehearsals."
USA Today News
written by Christal Hayes
Tuesday February 1, 2022

LOS ANGELES – A former lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles, was arrested Tuesday after police say he sent an 800-page manifesto riddled with violent threats to former colleagues. Court documents also show he is accused of previously sending messages saying he would “hunt” and kill a professor.

Matthew Harris, 31, was taken into custody in Boulder, Colorado, Tuesday — an arrest that led to evacuations and disrupted schools in two states. Police spent hours before his arrest evacuating a nearby elementary school and some fraternity and sorority homes at the University of Colorado Boulder. Authorities took him into custody peacefully after a standoff outside his apartment.

UCLA alerted law enforcement after a "concerning email and posting" was sent to some faculty at the school Sunday. Early Tuesday, the school said law enforcement confirmed the person was not in California. But all classes were moved online "out of an abundance of caution," the school said.

Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said police at UCLA tracked the suspect to Boulder and alerted local authorities and federal agencies.

Herold said the threats were outlined in an 800-page manifesto sent to UCLA, calling it "very violent and very disturbing." She said the levels of violence detailed though the pages were "alarming." The manifesto also included references to Boulder, universities and schoolyards, she said.

"Upon reviewing parts of the manifesto, we identified thousands of references to violence, stating things such as killing, death, murder, shootings, bombs, schoolyard massacres," Herold said.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said the suspect attempted to purchase a handgun in November in Colorado but was rejected. Officials believe the transaction did not go through because of a California-based protection order that said he could not purchase or possess a firearm.

Last year, a University of California, Irvine philosophy professor was granted a restraining order against Harris. Court documents show Harris sent emails to his mother threatening to “hunt” the professor and “put bullets in her skull.” Harris' mother alerted the woman months later.

Harris’ mother and the woman could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The court documents show in January 2021, Harris emailed his mother and said he planned to move closer to the Irvine campus so he could “hunt” down the woman and “put bullets in her skull." At times, he referenced previous shootings including Sandy Hook.

Harris’ mother reached out to the woman in April, saying she had received disturbing emails from her son that mentioned the woman by name. Harris’ mother had not seen her son in five years and believed he was in need of psychiatric help.

“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did nothing and someone got hurt,” she wrote to the woman.

The University of California regents sought a workplace violence restraining order in May, the day after UCLA officials learned Harris had been released from a mental health facility and was back in Los Angeles.

A temporary restraining order was granted immediately, and a longer protective order – in place until 2024 – was approved less than a month later.

The woman was working at UC Irvine, which is part of the University of California system and about 50 miles south of UCLA.

A records search for Harris did not immediately show any previous criminal charges. The records tie Harris to a Los Angeles apartment building in 2020, and listed previous addresses in North Carolina and New Jersey.

Herold said her agency had contact with the suspect in October for an unspecified incident. She said no one was arrested but didn't elaborate on the interaction. Police are investigating his ties to the Boulder community and it's unclear whether he worked for any schools in the area, she said.

Dougherty said his office is considering a host of charges against the suspect and federal charges could be added as well, since the suspect threatened victims across state lines.

Los Angeles police became aware of Harris’ online posts, including YouTube videos, and the manifesto on Monday night, Chief Michel Moore said the next day during a police commission meeting. The material indicated that Harris was “potentially planning for a mass violence or shooting event at UCLA.”

Moore said the agency’s department’s mental evaluation unit had contact with Harris in the spring of 2021. It was not immediately known what led to that encounter or what, if anything, happened after.

UCLA officials announced the arrest Tuesday afternoon in emails to faculty and students. In-person classes would resume on Wednesday, the school said.

"The threats made yesterday were frightening for many of us and caused our community to feel vulnerable at an already challenging time," said Michael Beck, the administrative vice chancellor at UCLA. "I offer my deepest thanks to UCPD and other law enforcement agencies for thoroughly investigating these threats as soon as we learned of them and for coordinating to locate and arrest the individual in Colorado."

The Los Angeles Times reported the manifesto included specific threats targeting UCLA and individuals who work there along with videos posted to YouTube.

The threats centered on the school's philosophy department where Harris previously worked, the Times reported. An email sent to the department included profanities and racial references.

The paper reported a YouTube video included with the threats was titled, "UCLA PHILOSOPHY (MASS SHOOTING)" and was uploaded Sunday. The video included references to previous mass shootings, including the 2017 attack during a music festival in Las Vegas. Another video on his page included references to spots on UCLA's campus being added to his "list," the newspaper reported.

The YouTube channel has since been taken down.

Harris worked as a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA, teaching about the philosophy of race and personal identity, according to a UCLA newsletter in 2019 announcing his hiring.

The Daily Bruin, the school's student-run newspaper, reported Harris was placed on leave in 2021 after allegations he'd sent a pornographic video to a student.

Around that time, his term as a fellow expired.

In light of the incident, UCLA said it was offering students and faculty counseling if needed.

In 2016, UCLA was the scene of a shooting after a former student killed his estranged wife in a Minneapolis suburb and traveled to the school, where he fatally shot an engineering professor who had been his mentor and then killed himself.
KDVR Fox31 News, Denver local
written by Stefanie Dazio, Associated Press and Colleen Slevin, AP writer in Denver
Tuesday February 8, 2022

LOS ANGELES — A trail of red flags about his behavior toward women followed Matthew Harris on an academic journey that took him to three of the nation’s most prestigious universities — Duke, Cornell and then the University of California, Los Angeles.

Former graduate classmates at Duke and Cornell, where he studied before becoming a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA in recent years, described him as inappropriate and creepy, with obsessive behaviors like sending excessive emails and text messages to some women that became harassment and, in at least one case, sexual harassment. Another said she changed her morning routine at Duke for weeks after Harris learned her schedule and texted her messages like, “I’m here, where are you?”

Last week, a SWAT team in Colorado arrested Harris after he allegedly emailed an 800-page document and posted videos threatening violence against dozens of people at UCLA, prompting the school to cancel in-person classes for a day. The so-called manifesto contained numerous racist threats and used the words “bomb,” “kill” and “shoot” more than 12,000 times. Harris is expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

In online class reviews, interviews and emails obtained by The Associated Press, current and former students at all three universities alleged negligence by the schools for letting Harris slide previously, despite his concerning conduct.

Two former Duke students, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they fear for their safety, said that while they did not report Harris to the university at the time, his behavior was well known within the small philosophy program and they did not feel they would have been supported if they’d come forward.

Taken together, the students’ allegations at three top-tier colleges raise questions about the line between uncomfortable and actionable behavior, a university’s duty to encourage the reporting of it, and an institution’s obligation to prevent it from occurring at another school.

The students’ descriptions prompts another question: What, if anything, did the universities do to get Harris help?

A graduate student at Duke as he completed his Ph.D. in 2019, Harris also attended Cornell for a year before UCLA hired him as a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer until he was put on “investigatory leave” last March after allegedly sending pornographic and violent content to his students.

The former Duke students described their initial interactions with Harris as largely collegial, but with strange undertones that grew.

But Andrew Janiak, a Duke philosophy professor and former chair of the department, said he never had any indication of such behavior. Janiak received the first reports of harassment in late March, after Harris had left Duke, and the philosophy professor immediately contacted UCLA.

Duke and Cornell declined to comment.

The signs were there, like bread crumbs scattered across the three schools.

A house party at Cornell where Harris tried to rope a relative stranger into a discussion about his mental health. Negative reviews of his UCLA lectures. Odd interactions with women on the Duke campus. Incessant text messages and emails.

“No one would look at that kid and say, ‘Oh, he’s fine,’” said Brian Van Brunt, an expert on campus violence and mental health. “Typically someone like this didn’t just appear out of nowhere.”

In recent years, most colleges and universities have formed behavioral intervention and threat assessment teams in response to school shootings. Emails and court documents show UCLA’s behavioral intervention team was involved, but possibly not until as late as March 30.

That spring, Harris began sending bizarre and disturbing emails. Emails to UCLA students allegedly included pornographic and violent content sent to women in his research group, prompting his suspension.

UCLA officials said in an email that people at the university “brought concerns” to its Title IX office last year, which “worked with the individuals to address the concerns.” The university announced Monday that it was creating a task force “to conduct a comprehensive review” of its protocols for assessing potential threats.

In April, Harris’ mother reached out to a professor at University of California, Irvine, saying her son in January had threatened in emails to “hunt” and kill the woman. The professor had briefly met Harris in 2013 while they were both at Duke and he reached out in 2020.

Harris’ emails to his mother prompted the UC system and UCLA police to obtain protective orders against him.

In November — months after he’d been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility and diagnosed with schizophrenia — Harris tried to buy a gun but was denied because of those orders.

Now, his former classmates wonder: How did Harris even get hired at UCLA?

The onus is on the incoming institution to ask targeted questions about an applicant beyond their academic credentials, according to Saunie Schuster, a lawyer who advises colleges.

While schools typically cannot mention unproven accusations for fear of a lawsuit, Schuster said, they can do a background check. It’s not clear whether UCLA officials did so; the university did not answer AP’s questions regarding its hiring process.

Schuster said a background search would’ve allowed questions to be posed to former employers like, “Has this individual demonstrated any conduct that you’ve observed that would give you concerns?”

For Harris’ former classmates, the answer is clear: Yes.
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