Following the shooting death of 23-year-old African-American man Sylville Smith at the hands of a member of the Milwaukee Police Department on August 13, the city’s residents flooded the streets in protest. Today (August 15), Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke appeared on FOX Business Network’s “Varney & Co.” to share his thoughts on the uprising, which he labeled a “riot.”
“What causes riots are failed liberal urban policies in these ghettos like Milwaukee,” starts Clarke, who is Black. “Milwaukee has inescapable poverty, we’re like the sixth poorest city in America. They have failing public schools. The K-12 public school system here—there’s only two school systems that are worse, Cleveland and Detroit. You have massive Black unemployment, I think the Black unemployment rate in Milwaukee is 32 percent. You have dysfunctional families, you have father-absent homes, you have questionable lifestyle choices. Those are the ingredients for a riot,” he continues. “And then a police shooting comes along, and it just acts as an igniter to an already volatile situation.”
Clarke when on to call protestors “creeps” and “cop haters” who have nothing to say about four unrelated deaths suffered in the city over the weekend. He concluded by saying activists were looking for an opportunity to steal.
.@SheriffClarke: "Failed liberal urban policies" are to blame for the #riots in #Milwaukee. https://t.co/cjuqZD2vI8 pic.twitter.com/xUHUF3MNn8
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) August 15, 2016
According to CNN, Milwaukee PD—which is headed by Chief Edward A. Flynn—says that officers stopped Smith in a car on Saturday and that he and his companion ran from the car. They maintain that Smith had a handgun and 500 rounds of ammunition and that the officer shot him because he refused to put down the gun. Body camera footage has not yet been released, but Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says that it shows Smith holding a gun. The officer has not been identified, but the department says he is Black and has been an officer for three years. He has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s investigation of the shooting.
Protests broke out on Saturday, with participants allegedly setting fire to six businesses and several cars, leading Governor Scott Walker to declare a state of emergency and put the National Guard on standby. One protester was shot as Sunday rolled over into Monday. The department reported the following information via Twitter on Sunday and Monday:
4 injured officers
7 squads damaged, 2 totaled
48 ShotSpotter activations
6 businesses set on fire
— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) August 14, 2016
4 injured MPD officers
3 squads damaged
30 ShotSpotter activations
1 store with broken windows
— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) August 15, 2016
“What happened … may not have been right, and I am not justifying that, but no one can deny the fact that there are problems, racial problems in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that need to be rectified,” Alderman Khalif Rainey told CNN. “This community of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has become the worst place to live for African Americans in the entire country.” He went on to talk about the role racial inequity plays in residents’ response to the shooting. “The Black people of Milwaukee are tired; they are tired of living under this oppression. This is their life."
Clarke made news earlier this summer when he clashed with Don Lemon after Baton Rouge police officers Howie Lake II and Blane Salamoni killed Alton Sterling. He also wrote an editorial published by The Hill in which he called people who work with the Black Lives Matter network the “enemy within our borders” and attempted to tie the activist collective to terrorist group ISIS:
The targeting of police for hate and for murder is by Black Lives Matter and their accomplices are, in actuality, the targeting is our rule of law. Groups like Black Lives Matter, blessed by the progressive left and most recently our own President Obama, need to be exposed and condemned for their true aims: revolution.
Black Lives Matter organizers hold the same values of America’s age-old enemies, who have always fought the ideals of our Constitution and our nation. That they have now taken on as their costume a false concern for Black America only adds to their depravity….
We have several forces internal and external attacking our rule of law: ISIS, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street—just the most recent iterations of the elements who brand themselves as unique but seek the same revolutionary aim: take down the West, the philosophy of equality before the law, and replace it with their authority, their rules, their hate.