Yesterday’s GOP presidential debate on Fox News, perhaps unsurprisingly, devoted less than a minute to the Black Lives Matter movement and its concerns. Fox’s Megyn Kelly directed exactly one question about the movement to one candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who gave a bland answer about providing for better “training” for law enforcement officers.
But Walker’s answer contained one interesting tidbit, which he clearly knew would resonate with regular Fox News viewers. Walker referred in his answer to the advice of his “friend” Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, whom he noted had been a guest on Fox News:
Well, I think the most important thing we can do when it comes to policing — it’s something you’ve had a guest on who’s a friend of mine Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who’s talked to me about this many times in the past — it’s about training. It’s about making sure that law enforcement professionals, not only in the way in to their positions but all the way through their time, have the proper training, particularly when it comes to the use of force. And that we protect and stand up and support those men and women who are doing their jobs in law enforcement. And for the very few that don’t, that there are consequences to show that we treat everyone the same here in America.
Walker probably assumed that regular Fox viewers would recognize Clarke’s name, as the sheriff is a rising Tea Party star who makes frequent appearances on the conservative network to assure its viewers that the Black Lives Matter movement is wrong and that there are no racial disparities in policing.
In his Fox appearances, Clarke has said that he would have used “more force” against a group of black teenage girls who were tackled by police outside a swimming pool in Ohio, telling people who pointed out a racial component in the case to “shut up already”; blamed Sandra Bland for the way she was treated by the police; called a Ferguson, Missouri, plan to install a plaque memorializing Michael Brown an “appeasement” and a “disgrace”; derided criminal justice reform as an ineffective “social engineering experiment”; and declared that “the real issue in the country as it relates to crime” is “the disproportionate involvement by young black males.”
In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Clarke offers a response made for Fox News:
“The real [problem] in the American ghetto, and it is not the American police officer, it is modern liberalism that has been a wrecking ball on the black community and the black family structure,” Clarke said.
Clarke has taken his message to other conservative media outlets as well, insisting that Michael Brown“ chose thug life” so was “a coconspirator in his own demise” and claiming that President Obama is using controversies over police killings as part of a plot to “emasculate” law enforcement, “get rid of the Constitution” and implement a “socialist agenda.”
Clarke recently parlayed his conservative media stardom into his very own radio show on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze network, using one of his first programs to call for a revolution complete with “pitchforks and torches” in response to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. In a WorldNetDaily column, he wrote that the decision may have presented a “Lexington-Concord type moment.”
The Milwaukee County sheriff became a hero to the gun lobby when he urged his constituents to arm themselves rather than count on calling 911. He told conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that federal gun control laws could launch “the second coming of the American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison.” And he used his speaking slot at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention this year to throw red meat to the crowd, including a call for the arrows on the Great Seal of the United States to be replaced with a semi-automatic rifle.
Walker clearly sees Clarke as an important ally: Earlier this summer, signed a pair of laws weakening Wisconsin’s gun regulations in Clarke’s office.