Wisconsin Sheriff: ‘It Is a Myth That Police Kill Black Males in Greater Numbers Than Anyone Else’

Melanie Arter | May 19, 2015 | 7:29pm EDT
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Milwaukee County, Wis., Sheriff David Clarke (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Milwaukee County, Wis., Sheriff David Clarke on Tuesday addressed what he called a “myth” that police kill more black males than any other race in testimony at the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing titled, “Policing Strategies for the 21st Century.”

“It is a myth that police kill black males in greater numbers than anyone else,” Clarke said, citing statistics provided by the University of Toledo, which contrasts, what he called “the false narrative propagated by cop haters and the liberal mainstream media.”

Clarke referenced “the police use of force data,” compiled by Richard Johnson, PhD and titled, “Examining the Prevalence of Deaths from Police Use of Force,” which shows that between 2009 and 2012, the majority of those who died at the hands of police were white males.

Specifically, 61 percent or 915 of 1,491 people who died from police use of force were white males, while 32 percent or 481 were black males, Clarke noted.


The same report cited FBI data showing that “of the 56,259 homicides from 2009 to 2012, 19,000 (33.8%) were killings of black males.” In comparison, “481 (2.5%) were the result of police use of force.”

“Private citizens killed a quarter more black males in justifiable homicides than did police use of force,” the report said.

“Black-on-black crime is the elephant in the room that few want to talk about. We can talk about police use of force but it doesn’t start with transforming the police profession,” said Clarke. “It starts by asking why we need so much assertive policing in the American ghetto.

“Are police officers perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Are police agencies perfect? Not… even… close. But we are the best our communities have to offer,” he added.

Later in the hearing, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said the percentage of whites who kill whites is 83 percent. “Now is white-on-white violence a problem in America that we should also have a robust discussion about?” Jeffries asked Clarke.

“Violence in America in general is problematic, but if you look at the rates, that’s where it starts coming a little more into balance in terms of the data I’ve seen, and I’ve looked at a lot of it. The white-on-white crime does happen – 80 percent figure you put out there – but when you look at the rates of it, these two are not even close,” Clarke said.

“Right, the rates are roughly equivalent in terms of the context of people who live next to each other and because of housing segregation patterns or just where people tend to live in America, ethnic violence tends to occur – racial violence – within the same group, and so elevating it beyond that fact, I think, is irresponsible,” said Jeffries.

“We all want to deal with the black-on-black violence problem. Now it was mentioned that there’s a cooperation issue in the black-on-black violence context. I don’t think I’ve heard the phrase mentioned: blue wall of silence,” he added.

“So if we’re gonna have a conversation about cooperation, when someone crosses the line, it seems to me to make sense that we also have to deal with what may be another elephant in the room – to use your term, Sheriff Clark – the blue wall of silence, that the overwhelming majority of officers are good officers, but what often occurs is that when an officer crosses the line, the ethic is not to cooperate or participate or speak on what a bad apple officer has done,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries asked Clarke whether the reaction to the Eric Garner case was “a false narrative that people in the city of New York and the country are reacting to.”

“Now was the reaction to the Eric Garner case, who was choked to death using a procedure that had been banned by the NYPD for more than 20 years, wasn’t resisting arrest, said ‘I can’t breathe,’ 11 times on 11 different occasions. There was no response by all of the police officers who were there. Was that a false narrative that people in the city of New York and the country are reacting to, sir?” Jeffries asked.

“Mr. Chair, Congressman, first of all, he wasn’t choked to death, not from the report that I had seen out of the grand jury testimony and even from the medical examiner’s report. He wasn’t choked to death,” said Clarke.

“Medical examiner ruled the death a homicide by asphyxiation. In the ghetto, that’s called being choked to death, sir,” said Jeffries.

“Well we could have this conversation later on then about the facts, because we could be here for awhile. My understanding is he died of a heart attack, okay? So, but anyway, you said that he wasn’t resisting arrest,” Clarke replied.

“He was resisting arrest. He was told that he was under arrest and put his … hands behind his back, and he wouldn’t do so, and that’s why I put in my remarks here the reference from Thomas Sowell about, when law enforcement officers tell someone they’re under arrest, and they can’t use force to execute that arrest, we don’t have the rule of law when it’s merely a suggestion for them that they’re going to jail or to put their hands behind their back,” he said.

“Those are behaviors, like in the incidence of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, where some different choices by the individual could have helped the situation. In other words, Mike Brown was just simply told to get out of the street,” Clarke added.

“Sir, my time has expired, but for you to come here and testify essentially that Eric Garner’s responsible for his own death when he was targeted by police officers for allegedly selling loose cigarettes, which was an administrative violation for which he got the death penalty for is outrageous, and if we are going to have a responsible conversation, we’ve got to be able to at least agree on a common set of reasonable facts that all Americans can interpret, particularly in this incidence because they caught the whole thing on videotape,” concluded Jeffries.


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