Sheriff's badge on dark background

Source: Getty

On Wednesday, Milwaukee County Jail Sheriff David Clarke announced he is leaving his position next month. Why? To join the Trump administration as an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security.

Clarke, a staunch Trump and Blue Lives Matter supporter, is a controversial figure who positions himself as doggedly tough on crime. He has called for Black Democrats to shame the “cultural rot” of the underclass in American ghettos, once described Planned Parenthood as “Planned Genocide” (says it “kills more black babies than any other race”), called the student protestors at Bethune Cookman University “petulant”, and, in 2015, tweeted that Black Lives Matter (which he calls “Black Lies Matter”) will “join forces with ISIS” to bring down America.

But for a hardened lawman spewing politically charged rhetoric in a cowboy hat, he appears to be running away from the mountain of controversy coming from horrific occurrences under his watch.

Last year, four inmates died in Milwaukee County jails, one of which was Terrill Thomas, who died of dehydration in solitary confinement (Clarke responded to this by implying that inmates brought death on themselves). An inmate filed a federal lawsuit after one of Clarke’s deputies broke her neck in a car crash. She accused Clarke and other deputies involved of trying to cover up the incident by falsely arresting her for drunk driving. And in an even more disgusting incident, another inmate, whose baby died after birth, is currently suing after jail staff ignored her requests for medical attention. An officer laughed at and ignored her when her water broke, and she was forced to give birth in shackles.

But for a hardened lawman spewing politically charged rhetoric in a cowboy hat, he appears to be running away from the mountain of controversy coming from horrific occurrences under his watch.

The Justice Department was considering an investigation into the conditions of Milwaukee County jails, but this appointment puts a dark cloud over this possibility. Aside from possible conflicts of interests, it would seem that the Trump administration is undeterred by how troubling it looks to hire a man attached to multiple lawsuits and has people dying in his jail cells.

But if history reveals anything, Clarke and others like him are the perfect mascots to espouse distorted and racist views about Black America, while using their own Blackness as a shield against accusations of anti-Black race-hustling. His hiring does not comes as a surprise, because we know there will always be a seat at the table for Black conservatives who valorize law enforcement as virtually infallible, sermonize on the “cultural rot” of the inner city, and promise to correct it by filling jails with as much Black and brown bodies as possible.

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