Monday, 19 March 2018


There are approximately 18,000 police departments in the United States.  Most of them are operated by county sheriffs. This article is about one of them.

This staunch President Donald Trump ally and former Milwaukee County sheriff, David Clarke (a black man) was once considered for the post as Trump’s deputy secretary of Homeland Security.  At  the time of this writing, he faced trial in January 2018 for Facebook taunts against Dan Black, a plane passenger who told Milwaukee investigators that the sheriff thought he had disrespected him.

According to the affidavit of Dan Black, he said that he spotted Clarke after the two men boarded the Milwaukee-bound plane in Dallas on January, 15, 2018. When he asked Clarke if he was in fact the sheriff of Milwaukee, Clarke confirmed that he was.  Black said he shook his head in a negative way (implying disapproval).

When Clarke asked him if he had a problem, Black said he didn’t respond to the sheriff directly because he didn’t want to get into trouble.  He must have said something to the sheriff at some time later during the flight because he later claimed that he had a First Amendment right to make remarks to the sheriff.  

After landing, the sheriff directed deputies to detain Black.  There were six deputies and two police dogs present. Obviously, the sheriff had phoned ahead. Black was detained and questioned by deputies about “remarks” he had made to Clarke, which Black denied, and then he was escorted to a friend’s car and they drove away.  

Soon after, threatening posts appeared on the sheriff’s Facebook page towards Black, The passenger filed a complaint about his treatment by Clarke after he was escorted off the plane by the police and the remarks against him in the sheriff’s Facebook. The sheriff had even texted one of his officers to detain Black upon arrival in Wisconsin, according to the affidavit.

In the text, the message was, “Just a field interview, no arrest unless he becomes an asshole with your guys.  Question him as why he said anything to me. Why didn’t he just keep his mouth shut?”

Black filed a complaint against the Milwaukee County Executive’s Office.   Investigators found Black’s account credible, according to the affidavit.

Black also filed a civil rights suit against the deputies.  Black accused them of violating his constitutional rights of free speech and due process, and his right against unreasonable seizure. 

In January 2018, Judge Stadtmueller threw out most of Black’s claims, and dropped the case against the deputies. The judge ruled that being questioned by deputies did not constitute a “seizure,” and that the lack of due process was not the “most egregious official conduct” to “shock the conscience” and therefore did not require a trial. I agree after all, the deputies were simply obeying orders.

But Stadtmueller ruled that a jury should determine if the Facebook posts constituted intimidation that amounted to retaliation against Black.

One of the posts on Clarke’s Facebook page said if “Sheriff Clarke were to really harass you, you wouldn’t be around to whine about it.” Another post said the next time Black or anyone “pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out.”
The judge concluded that “Black had raised a triable issue as to his claim for First Amendment (freedom of speech) retaliation based on Clarke’s Facebook posts.”

Details of Black’s encounter with Clarke re-emerged in the previous month when an FBI affidavit about the incident was unsealed. The FBI filed the document in order to obtain a search warrant to examine Clarke’s emails. Agents sought access to the emails via Google after obtaining one in which Clarke apparently instructed a subordinate to post on Facebook about Black. “Link to the complaint,” said the email from Clarke’s account to a staffer, according to the affidavit. “Sheriff has taken this asshole’s complaint under advisement and summarily determined that he can go to hell.”

After press reports about the unsealed affidavit, Clarke attacked the media on Twitter, vowing to “punch them in the nose” and “make them taste their own blood.” He also posted a picture showing Trump holding a wrestler labeled “CNN” as another wrestler with Clarke’s face kicks “CNN.

When Twitter users filed complaints about the threatening nature of Clarke’s tweets, Twitter temporarily froze the sheriff’s  account until two of the tweets were removed.

Clarke, who infamously called on citizens to take up “pitchforks and torches” and hit the streets because the system was rigged against then-candidate Trump, spoke at the Republican National Convention.

David Clarke who used his position to launch a career as a conservative talking head and high-profile supporter of President Donald Trump, resigned as sheriff last August following a number of troubling deaths in Milwaukee County jails

He generally ignored press inquiries about the deaths in the facility, but had put the blame on inmates and reportedly threatened a Milwaukee County medical examiner for releasing information about deaths at the jails.

Inmates in the jail he was operating had been dying from preventable deaths. The death rate at the facility in 2016 was roughly three times the national average. One newborn baby delivered “unbeknownst to the staff” died shortly after being born to a mentally ill woman. Earlier this month, jurors recommended charges against several of Clarke’s employees after a mentally ill man died of dehydration a week after officials cut off water to his cell.

Erik Heipt, an attorney working for the family of the mentally ill man who died of dehydration, told HuffPost that he found the news astonishing. It’s hard to believe that Sheriff Clarke was unaware of his own jail’s unconstitutional practice of shutting off drinking water as a twisted form of punishment,” Heipt said. “If he authorized or ordered this deplorable practice, he too could face felony criminal charges. And he will undoubtedly be a defendant in our federal civil rights case.”

Clarke’s home city of Milwaukee was glad to see him leave for Washington. Thousands of protesters, spoke out against the sheriff and his support for Trump’s immigration policies. Attendees included Dan Black, the Wisconsin man who filed a harassment complaint against Clarke.

He said, “Clarke had time to blog, tweet, and write op-eds to advance his divisive agenda. Yet, while he’s been doing all of this self-promoting, his own jail has been grossly mismanaged. Hiring Sheriff Clarke for a leadership position in the Department of Homeland Security is a slap in the face to the family and friends of Terrill Thomas. And to place him in a role in which he will serve as a liaison with state and local law enforcement adds insult to the injury.”

Clarke’s infamy had become known. He accepted more than $150,000 in speaking fees, travel reimbursements and gifts in 2015.

During the trial between Dab Black (plaintiff) and ex-sheriff, David Clarke, Black's attorney, Anne T. Sulton, asked jurors to impose punitive damages against Clarke because he "believes he's unaccountable, above the law." Her closing argument was grounded in practiced glorification of the First Amendment, and how it sets the country apart.

Clarke did not appear at the trial. Sheriff's Capt. Mark Witek sat at the defense table because the county would have been liable for paying any damages the jury might have awarded Black.

In his closing, defense attorney Charles Bohl argued that Black and Clarke had a simple "internet spat" with no civil rights implications. He said Black himself was the first to mention the airport incident on social media, seemingly mocking Clarke in one tweet, and gave multiple TV news interviews about his encounter with Clarke and Clarke's reactions.

Bohl asked. "Did the posts chill his (Black’s) exercise of his First Amendment rights? It's a resounding no. He exercised those rights abundantly."

Sulton on the other hand said that the real question  was whether the experience would discourage Black from ever again filing a complaint about a public official. Black said it would. His parents testified they wouldn't advise him again to speak out, given the impact the year-long affair has had on the whole family.

One of Black’s friends testified that Black hadn't been himself.  He said that Black had been more cautious, on edge and sometimes paranoid about the sheriff's office. Black testified he hadn't been able to land a new job, since any internet search of his name, turns up almost nothing but the dispute with Clarke.

Going to the news media, Sulton argued, was a sensible protection when it appeared the county itself wasn't going to do anything about his complaint.

Sniffling back emotion on the witness stand, Black testified that his lawsuit was more of the same, an insurance against the power of Clarke and his office. "I need someone to say this is wrong," Black told his jurors.

During jury selection in the morning, Sulton objected that the only African-American in the jury panel was struck by the defense. Bohl said she was struck for non-racial reasons, because she had once served on a jury that awarded damages and that she had supported President Barack Obama, whom Clarke had opposed.

The jury of two men and five women hearing Dan Black’s complaint found that he had failed to prove that the posts of the ex-sheriff suppressed his willingness to make such a complaint in the future. They deliberated about three hours.

In my opinion, the jurors were right. It is highly unlikely that the ex-sheriff will risk the fury of his boss, Donald Trump by posting threatening tweets etc on the internet against Black.         

It doesn’t surprise me that that stupid president Donald Trump would want Clarke to be on his team after all, prior to Trump’s election as president, Clarke was promoting Trump’s attributes. (what attributes?)

They have so much in common. They are both racists. Clarke has attacked what he branded as the “hateful ideology” of the Black Lives Matter movement, and said black Americans sell drugs “because they’re uneducated, they’re lazy, and they’re morally bankrupt.”

Some sell drugs and are lazy but he can’t make a statement that suggests that all blacks fit that mold like Trump does.

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