Wisconsin sheriff blames ‘tribal behavior’ for Milwaukee violence
MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Unapologetic and blunt, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has won legions of supporters on the right with his frequent commentary that slams Black Lives Matter and other liberal groups.
Clarke, who’s African-American, raised his national profile recently with his speech at the Republican National Convention and his vigorous defense of law enforcement. Although he’s not a registered Republican, the sheriff is no fan of Democrats either, often blaming them for creating “misery-inducing, divisive, exploitative and racist” urban policies.
His outspokenness on such issues have won him fans such as Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Political Action Conference as well as critics such as rapper Talib Kweli.
‘A collapse of the social order’
Clarke hasn’t been shy about his views on the turmoil in the city of Milwaukee after Saturday’s police shooting of an armed black man named Sylville Smith. He called protests that turned violent “black cultural dysfunction.”
In an opinion piece he wrote for The Hill, he likened the chaos in Milwaukee as “tribal behavior.”
“What happened Saturday night and again Sunday night had little to do with police use of force — it was a collapse of the social order where tribal behavior leads to reacting to circumstances instead of waiting for facts to emerge,” Clarke wrote.
“The law of the jungle replaced the rule of law in Milwaukee Saturday night over an armed career criminal suspect who confronted police.”
He described the urban, black poor as victims.
“The actions were the manifestation of a population with no hope, no stake in the American dream that could provide advancement and purpose and pride of self. They are the ones lied to, exploited by and ultimately manipulated by the Democrats who claim to care. They are victims of the left, but they are not without blame.”
‘Anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country’
Since 2002, Clarke has been the sheriff of Milwaukee County. Now in his fourth term, he has won each election by a wide margin of victory. The suburbs, where he serves, is more heavily white than the city of Milwaukee, which has its own police force. He lost a bid to become Milwaukee mayor in 2004.
In July, Clarke had a heated interview with CNN’s Don Lemon over the police shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that killed three law enforcement officers and wounded three others.
He told Lemon that he had predicted that police officers would be targeted.
“This anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country has turned out some hateful things inside of people that are now playing themselves out on the American police officer,” he said.
Clarke has frequently blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for inspiring violent crimes against law enforcement officers, calling the group “purveyors of hate.”