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University of New Haven in hot water over canceled speaking engagement

NEW HAVEN -- University of New Haven students and alumni are speaking out after news surfaced that Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke will no longer be speaking on campus.

According to Sheriff Clarke he was asked to be a keynote speaker at the 25th Annual Markle Symposium at the end of October.

The Sheriff said his office got a phone call at the end of the summer saying he would no longer be a guest at the event. According to Clarke, his assistant was told by a representative at UNH that it was due to his remarks about Black Lives Matter.

"The gentleman was very apologetic, he was sincere, he felt bad about having to make the call but he said they were pulling back the invitation and were dis-inviting," Sheriff Clark told FOX 61 over the phone. "He said people at the university didn't like some of the things I've said about Black Lives Matter."

Sheriff Clarke is very vocal in his stance against the Black Lives Matter Movement, which he refers to as Black Lies Matter.

"If someone doesn’t like my viewpoint on Black Lives Matter we should talk about it, not try to shut me down and that's what this does," he said. "Seeing some of these colleges and universities pull back on this stuff has been very disheartening to me."

The school said Wednesday that they were aware students and alumni were upset the invitation was rescinded. Thursday evening, the school explained no formal invitation was extended after they declined to provide perks to the sheriff which they said included first-class airfare, a presidential hotel suite, and transportation from the airport in a black SUV.

"They said a formal invitation was never granted, they’re lying about that," Sheriff Clarke said. "All this stuff about a presidential suite, I’ve never in my life asked for a presidential suite. I have asked on speaking occasions for a suite because I spend several days and I have to do work and it's kind of hard to do it at Days Inn or Motel 6."

He said he asks for the same terms at every speaking engagement and he was never told any of his requests to UNH were "too much."

UNH Senior Brian Sharnick was outraged to read this news on a blog post by Clarke, and started a petition which has more than 2,500 electronic signatures.

"I got upset about him not coming to campus after seeing that he wasn’t coming for political reasons," Sharnick said. " Sheriff Clarke was not coming to speak about any of those controversial topics, he was here to talk about forensics and even if he were to speak or mention something like that, I think it's healthy for us to hear all different viewpoints and different sides of things and I think everyone would have been able to take away something from it in the end even if they didn’t agree with it ."

Sharnick said he was disappointed in the lack of transparency by the university.

"Last night when the petition first started, the university issued a statement and they really wouldn’t give any reasons it was very vague," Sharnick said. "24 hours after the petition went live they finally issued a statement which did say those things about it being an expense thing and if that's the case then just tell us that’s what the case is, don’t play games about it."

According to Sheriff Clarke, he has emails between his office and the university proving he was invited to speak at the event.

"I’m not demanding that they allow me to speak but they made a decision that was very distasteful and they need to just own up to it," Sheriff Clarke said. "That's all I'm looking for."