Sheriff David Clarke says Black Lives Matter is nothing more than another liberal activist group that doesn’t actually care about black lives, and he says his black constituents know bad schools and rampant poverty are their biggest problems, and not the police.
Clarke is sheriff in heavily-Democratic Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. He is a prominent voice on police and national security issues and the author of “Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America.”
One of Clarke’s greatest frustrations centers on Black Lives Matter, the activist group that rose up in the wake of the police-involved shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. He says the group is hurting efforts by police and communities to forge cooperative relationships and doesn’t actually care about what happens to black people.
“If they truly believed that black lives matter, they’d be protesting in front of every Planned Parenthood clinic in America. (It’s) an organization that kills more black babies than every other demographic. But I thought black lives mattered,” said Clarke.
“If they truly believed that black lives mattered, they’d be protesting in every American ghetto, and not against the police, but especially in cities like Chicago where over 4,000 people were shot last year. Over 750 were murdered. Most of them were black. Most of the perpetrators were black. But they don’t want to talk about that issue,” said Clarke.
He says Black Lives Matter is turning into just another liberal interest group, spending time on things that seem to have no connection with their stated mission.
“Right now, Black Lives Matter is out in North Dakota protesting at the Dakota Access Pipeline. What does that have to do about black lives?” asked Clarke.
He says black families know exactly what the biggest problems are.
“Here’s what black people care about: they want better schools for their kids, they want crime-free neighborhoods or safer communities at the very least, and they want meaningful work. That’s what they care about,” said Clarke, noting Milwaukee, under longtime Democratic leadership, has the third worst schools in the U.S. and is among the highest poverty rates among U.S. cities.
Nonetheless, Clarke says Black Lives Matter focuses it’s attention on unrelated issues.
“If you look at their manifesto they put out not too long ago, none of that stuff is mentioned. Stuff like climate change is mentioned, more money for research for climate change, and also statehood for the Palestinians. What do the black people living in the American ghetto care about statehood for the Palestinians or about climate change. They don’t,” said Clarke.
“This is a political construct that has nothing to do with the quality of life for black people,” said Clarke.
In the book, Clarke explains how his father instilled his respect for his parents and anyone else his parents told him to respect, including police.
“My dad mattered in my life. Dads matter. My dad was my first role model. My dad was my first hero. He was my first authority figure. My dad demanded respect. When I respected him, that extended to the teachers at school, the adults in the neighborhood and anybody else in a position of authority,” said Clarke.
“Had my dad not been there for me, things might have gone in a totally different direction. You look at some of the things going on today like Freddie Gray (Baltimore) and like Mike Brown (Ferguson), no father to guide and develop them,” said Clarke.
Instead of working to push responsible fatherhood and other avenues to reduce poverty and improve education, Clarke says activists like Black Lives Matter and Al Sharpton only want to find someone else to blame.
“It’s easier to deflect away from that and say, ‘Hey, look at the police. Let’s pick on the police. Let’s blame the police for all of our problems. Let’s just hammer on the police all the time. Let’s just yell racism and discrimination, so we don’t have to deal with the ugliness of the pathologies I’ve mentioned,” said Clarke.
As a result of what he sees as demonizing police, Clarke says police are getting more hesitant and that makes their work more dangerous.
“We need them to be more assertive and aggressive and they’re afraid to because if something goes tragically wrong sometimes, through no fault of their own, they don’t want to be the next Darren Wilson. They don’t want to be the next Baltimore Six, the police officers that were maliciously slandered and charged with felonies they did not commit. Fortunately, the justice system got it right,” said Clarke.
Clarke says police morale is slowly on the upswing as the Trump administration takes over for the Obama administration. Clarke says the difference between the two presidents in treating the police is like “night and day.”
Clarke was a strong supporter of Trump in 2016, and has been rumored as a possible U.S. Senate candidate in Wisconsin in 2018. However, the sheriff says we shouldn’t expect him to jump into politics anytime soon.
“I’m flattered by the energy and enthusiasm for it, but I’m a lifelong cop. It’s in my blood. I’m in a position of leadership. Right now, I have platforms available to me to get a message out. That’s more important than focusing on myself. I tell myself all the time, ‘David, this isn’t about you. It’s about what you can do for other people,'” said Clarke.