‘Cauldrons of anarchy’: Milwaukee police chief blames urban policies for riot

David Alexander Clarke Jr., 64th Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. © Gage Skidmore
After a weekend of violent protests in Milwaukee, sparked by the fatal police shooting of an armed black man, County Sheriff David Clarke controversially blamed the unrest on the policies of the Obama administration and liberals. His comments ignited fury on social media.

“That things have not improved and in fact worsened in the American ghetto after eight years of Barack Obama is remarkable only to those who have not been paying attention to our nation’s cities,” Sheriff Clarke wrote in an op-ed for The Hill on Sunday.

In a Monday press conference updating reporters on the situation in Milwaukee, he repeated the sentiment.

“We keep focusing on the police. I’ve said publicly before stop trying to fix the police, fix the ghetto…and I’ve talked about the urban pathologies that have to be addressed to shrink the size of the underclass,” said Sheriff Clarke. “How do you do that? You shrink poverty. You fix the schools, you put people back to work, meaningful work.”

More than 100 protesters clashed with police on Saturday night in Milwaukee’s predominately black north side in response to the police shooting of an armed black man 23-year-old Sylville Smith. Four officers were injured and 17 people were arrested in the first night of protests. Rioters set fire to a bank, a gas station, a beauty supply store and an auto parts store.

Milwaukee’s Governor Scott Walker put the National Guard on standby on Sunday but so far no Guard members have been deployed.

The violence resumed Sunday and continued into Monday morning, with one victim being shot and a police officer being injured.

Mayor Tom Barrett at a Monday press conference said there was a city curfew in place for 10:00pm for teenagers. He warned parents and guardians it will be strictly enforced by police.

Sheriff Clarke said the use of police force serves as “an igniter…in an already volatile situation.”

“The officer-involved-shooting was simple a catalyst that ignited the already volatile mixture of inescapable poverty, failing K-12 public schools, dysfunction lifestyle choices like father absent home, gang involvement, drug alcohol abuse and massive unemployment,” Sheriff Clarke wrote.

Despite being a registered Democrat in a progressive state, Sheriff Clarke is known as a controversial outspoken black conservative. He spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, and is a support the GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

He is viewed as an “iconoclastic sheriff” along with former Sheriff Richard Mark and Joe Arpaio in Arizona.

In 2013 Clarke ran a series of public radio ads that said citizens could no longer rely on the police for timely protection and should arm themselves which was described as irresponsible.

“I am furious that the progressive left has put my citizens in harm’s way and that I had to send my officers into cauldrons of anarchy and hatred that were created by the left,” Sheriff Clarke wrote. “As an elected public servant, I am livid that Milwaukee’s pathetic, kowtowing city officials and alderman take this opportunity to abandon their citizens and preen before the Black Lives Matter-enabling media,” he wrote.

Clarke is a frequent critics of the Black Lives Matter movement referring to it as Black Lie Matter and described it as a hate group. Clarke’s stance on the movement has be criticized by the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP and other activists.

“The Milwaukee riots should be the last time the policies of liberal Democrats are held up as anything other than misery-inducing, divisive, exploitive and racist manipulation of the urban populations. Unfortunately, they won’t,” he wrote