by G. Brown
As president elect Donald Trump continues to select members of his cabinet, the picture is mostly White men, rich insiders or Trump loyalists who are being rewarded like billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos who has been named Education Secretary.
Trump has added some minorities like former presidential candidate Ben Carson whose been offered the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. but so far has not accepted the post and S.C. Governor Nikki R, Haley has been named U.N. Ambassador.
Another minority candidate on the shortlist for head of Homeland Security is Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke.
Few outside of Milwaukee ever heard of Clarke until his speech at the Republican National Convention where he gave us his resounding “Blue Lives Matter” line. Since then, the sheriff has pretty much become the poster child of staunch conservatives. Clarke became a darling of right wing FOX news for his outspoken opinions on topics like gun control and the Black Lives Matter Movement.
When rioters threatened the streets of Milwaukee this summer after the fatal shooting of 23 year old Sylville Smith by police, Clarke quickly denounced the chaos as a result of poor Black people and the Democrats, but not racism or police brutality saying, “What happened Saturday night and again Sunday night had little to do with police use of force — it was a collapse of the social order where tribal behavior leads to reacting to circumstances instead of waiting for facts to emerge.” Clarke also said, “The officer-involved-shooting was simply a catalyst that ignited the already volatile mixture of inescapable poverty, failing K-12 public schools, dysfunctional lifestyle choices like father absent homes, gang involvement, drug/alcohol abuse and massive unemployment….A self-examination and self-criticism by the underclass is in order as well – as is an admission by Progressive Democrats that they have failed Milwaukee would be the first step in reversing this urban decay.”
The mainstream media has portrayed Clarke as a tell it like it is, no nonsense top cop…a real life Texas Walker complete with cowboy hat and a willingness to back up his tough talk no matter what it takes. It’s that last part of his Clarke’s characterization that is causing some people concern.
Huffington Post recently reported on the rash of deaths at Clarke’s Milwaukee County Jail since April. Four people have died inside that jail, including the most recent victim–a newborn baby. According to Huff Post, a court-appointed medical monitor who visited the jail said, “he was alarmed by the “extremely large number of vacancies” at the facility, particularly for medical positions.” The shortage in qualified medical staff members might explain how Shade Swayzer’s baby was born in the jail and also died because of the jail.
Swayzer’s lawyer says the 30 year old woman told an officer around midnight that she was going into labor. No one helped or responded. At 4 a.m., Swayzer’s baby was born. Still, no one helped her. It would be another two hours bofore the jail finally provided medical attention for Swayzer and her baby around 6 a.m. The baby died later that same day. Swayzer, who also suffers from severe mental illness according to her lawyer, is suing the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s office for $8.5 million dollars.
In April, another jail inmate who was said to be mentally ill died of what the medical examiner described as “profound dehydration”. 38 year old Terrill Thomas allegedly flooded his cell so the water in that cell was turned off. Other inmates say Thomas could be heard begging for water prior to his death. The medical examiner ruled Thomas’ death a homicide but Richard Berndt says, “Intent or not the county was responsible for him. To die of dehydration is cruel and unusual punishment. Despite why he was in there it wasn’t his choice to die…”
After such deaths, there have been some major criticisms and condemnation of Sheriff Clarke like a local newspaper which wrote, “No one can be surprised anymore by the sheer contempt Sheriff David Clarke publicly expresses toward the human beings under his supervision housed in the Milwaukee County Jail. But it should gravely concern citizens and other public officials to learn inmates may have died in that jail from a form of life-threatening punishment comparable to torture banned at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
And this is the man Trump wants to charge with protecting American citizens. A man who ignored a mentally ill woman’s pleas for medical help as she was going into labor and allowed the baby to be born into conditions of negligence, thus giving the baby a death sentence upon his birth. The man who runs a county jail that many call death row for some of the unfortunate souls who end up there.
Like Trump, Clarke seems to have a vindictive streak. The chief medical examiner who released information about Thomas’s jail deaths says a furious Clarke called him and “threatened” him for doing so. The examiner also says Clarke accused him of “political activism” and threatened to have his medical license revoked.
The head of Homeland Security is responsible for guarding U.S. borders and keeping us safe inside those borders. Clarke doesn’t sound like some Hollywood hero from the big screen or a TV show. And he doesn’t sound like a man who will protect American citizens, but may be a man American citizens will need protection from.
What do you think…is Sheriff Clarke not responsible for the deaths at the jail he runs, but the officers and workers on staff are responsible? Would Clarke be a good choice for the head of Homeland Security