Milwaukee Sheriff Clarke on Riots: ‘This Thing Has Been Hijacked for a Political End’

Eric Scheiner | August 15, 2016 | 1:50pm EDT
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A car burns during protests Saturday in Milwaukee. (AP Photo)

( - According to Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, the riots over the weekend in Milwaukee in protest of the fatal shooting of a black man by police have “been hijacked for a political end; it’s a political construct now”

“We get our authority from the consent of the governed, if something’s bothering them we should have discussions about it. But this thing has been hijacked for a political end; it’s a political construct now. I mentioned it two years ago if you want to go back and look at some of the tapes. I said this was a political construct this whole war on police- that in fact a war on police, mirrored what had gone on in the 1960’s,” Clarke said during a press conference on Sunday.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding I think in terms of what causes these situations. The police use of force serves as an igniter, there’s no doubt, but to an already volatile situation a volatile mix of urban pathologies – failed urban policy that exacerbates inescapable poverty, failing public schools, inadequate parenting, father-absent homes – we all know when fathers are not around to shape the behavior of young boys they often times grow up to be unmanageable misfits that the police have to deal with in an aggressive fashion,” Clarke said.

“Pathologies like, lifestyle choices – questionable lifestyle choices, gang involvement, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as massive unemployment – those are the ingredients those are the things that cause resentment, anger and frustration to boil beneath the surface then all of a sudden a police situation comes along and that’s why I said it’s an igniter, but it’s an igniter to an already festering situation.”

Clarke later added, that failing to punish criminals leads to a repeat of criminal behavior.

“Just about everybody in this room has heard me over the last five years minimum-talking about the role of the criminal justice system. The prosecutor’s office, the sentencing practices in this area of Milwaukee County and – I don’t know I guess people didn’t think it played a big role – but we’re seeing it now. Not just last night but we’re seeing it time and time again - when some individual goes out and does something heinous, we look and they have a long, lengthy criminal history that nobody applied any sanctions to – or any meaningful sanctions let’s put it that way. Maybe some sanctions – a slap on the wrist – but that’s not meaningful.

As I look, the individual that lost his life- 13 arrests. Some serious stuff. Recklessly endangering safety, that’s a felony first degree. Felony – dismissed -  I don’t know why, I don’t have the reason but somebody- it isn’t going to be me- if you all have an interest you’ll go back and start peeling back the layers to find out what happened.”

“You punish unwanted behavior you’ll see less of it. If you do nothing about unwanted behavior you’re going to see a repeat of more of it,” Clarke said.

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