Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Grassroots Group Targets Sheriff Clarke

But Clarke calls group’s leaders “mush-minds” and “rabble rousers.”

By , Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service - Aug 14th, 2017 09:56 am
One of the tens of thousands who marched through Milwaukee on a Day without Latinos, Immigrants and Refugees in February. Photo courtesy of

One of the tens of thousands who marched through Milwaukee on a Day without Latinos, Immigrants and Refugees in February. Photo courtesy of

Leaders of a new community coalition are taking aim at Sheriff David Clarke.

Formed earlier this year, the Coalition for a People’s Sheriff was inspired by “incompetent,” “unethical” and “inhumane” actions of Sheriff David Clarke, according to coalition leaders. The coalition initially sought to influence Gov. Scott Walker’s appointment to replace Clarke after he was offered a position as Assistant Secretary for Office of Partnership and Engagement at the Department of Homeland Security. But after allegations of plagiarism, final approval was delayed and fell through at the end of June. Now, the coalition is setting its sights on the 2018 election and beyond.

In a June letter, the coalition asked Walker to ensure an appointee would treat prisoners with dignity and respect, not enroll in the federal 287(g) program, protect the First Amendment rights of all people, work with diverse and marginalized populations and commit to ending privatization, “over-incarceration” and “state violence against Black communities.”

The letter was signed by State Rep. David Bowen and 14 organizations including UBLAC (Uplifting Black Liberation and Community), Ex-Prisoners Organizing (EXPO)ACLU of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health ProfessionalsWisconsin Transgender Health Coalition and Citizen Action of Wisconsin. Some of the organizations involved have called for Clarke’s removal.

“We want a sheriff that actually upholds the law and actually is for the people,” said Annia Leonard, a youth organizer and member of UBLAC. UBLAC is an advocacy organization led by black women, queer and trans individuals. “We don’t need any more manipulation and we definitely don’t need any more dehumanization.”

In an emailed statement, Clarke called coalition leaders “insensitive mush minds,” “misguided miscreants” and “rabble-rousers.” He said the platform is “nothing more than warmed-over liberal talking points,” while emphasizing the “right and need” for the United States to enforce its borders and the importance of separating “human predators” from the rest of society.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz stands outside the Voces offices on South 5th Street. Photo by Jabril Faraj.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz stands outside the Voces offices on South 5th Street. Photo by Jabril Faraj.

“I will not be bullied by this group of socialist misfits,” Clarke wrote.

“When we’re treated as less than human beings, that’s detrimental to everyone,” said Mark Rice, assistant state director of EXPO. He pointed out that some people who Clarke calls “human predators” are in prison for “crimeless revocations” — the process of re-incarcerating individuals on supervision for violating a rule. “This tears families apart and drains resources that could, instead, be used to build stronger communities.”

Voces de la Frontera Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz said people are reacting to an “aggressive assault” on marginalized groups nationwide. Because of that assault, she added, “there is an opportunity to demand more and expect more.”

“I think the one silver lining in the moment that we’re in right now is that … we’re able to, now, really connect those struggles (of marginalized groups),” she said.

“We need champions — champions that have ties to an organized community — to really deliver on the kind of changes that we need,” added Neumann-Ortiz. “In these times, we know that the people must stand up for themselves or things will get very bad very quickly.”

Marina Dimitrijevic, state director of the Wisconsin Working Families Party, said the coalition isn’t at the point where it can run its own candidates yet.

Earnell Lucas, a 25-year officer with the Milwaukee Police Department, has stated that he will run for sheriff in 2018. He has contributed to Clarke’s campaigns, most recently in 2009. Lucas said he would not implement 287(g) — which grants local police the authority to enforce immigration laws — under any circumstances, adding that the backlash to the Black Lives Matter movement has been more disconcerting than the movement itself.

“I’m a person who’s never forgotten where he’s come from,” Lucas said.

Progressive Moms of Milwaukee, a coalition member, will hold an event for community members to meet Lucas at 6 p.m. Aug. 16 at Highland Community School, 1706 W. Highland Ave. No coalition members have formally endorsed Lucas.

Ultimately, it will be up to voters to decide what kind of candidate they want, said Livia Rowell-Ortiz, a trans activist and board member of Genderqueer MKE, an education and advocacy group. Rowell-Ortiz is the daughter of Neumann-Ortiz.

Regardless of what happens in the 2018 election, the coalition will continue to move forward, according to those interviewed. Leonard said members are beginning to understand each other better and learn how they can best work together. According to Rice, it’s important to start organizing now to “lay the foundation for change later.”

“There’s a lot of power in bringing all of these diverse perspectives and individuals together,” Rice said. “When we’re building a movement like that, then it’s going to have more of an impact and it’s going to help to amplify our voices and realize that we’re all in this together.”

It’s essential that people are honest about inequalities, injustice and racism so they can be addressed, according to Dimitrijevic.

“It’s time to start having some real talk,” she said. “The next step … is action. And that’s what this group wants to do.”

The initial goal is to vote Clarke out, said Rowell-Ortiz, but added, “This isn’t just about Clarke,” noting there are other ways to achieve change.

“Our community, the City of Milwaukee, and others can definitely move towards that goal, regardless of who’s in power.”

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on eighteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

16 thoughts on “Grassroots Group Targets Sheriff Clarke”

  1. Vincent Hanna says:

    Until he released a comment about White Supremacist Trump’s (non) response to Charlottesville, I had forgotten all about Clarke. He’s been noticeably and unusually quiet in recent months.

  2. Huck L. Berry says:

    Christine Neuman-Ortiz is a racist and Voces de la Frontera is an anti-American hate group.

  3. Toni Toni Toni says:

    Huck L. Berry, Please explain that comment? Are you suggesting she’s racist against white people, and that she’s unAmerican because you have to except the lifestyles of white people in order to be American?

  4. Huck L. Berry says:

    Yes, she’s racist against white people that don’t support her agenda.

    “Are you suggesting she’s…unAmerican because you have to except the lifestyles of white people in order to be American?”

    No, that’s ridiculous. Being white isn’t a requirement to being American.

  5. Vincent Hanna says:

    Huck said the woman who was murdered in Virginia deserved it. He is alt-right.

  6. Huck L. Berry says:

    I never said she deserved it. I said the violent actions from lefties like you are what precipitated her death.

    Alt-right! Haha, good one.

  7. Toni Toni Toni says:

    White people who don’t support her agenda? Why would a white person not support offering representation to a group of people who are underrepresented in our community?

  8. Toni Toni Toni says:

    Oh My God Huck? Seriously? The left is responsible for the death of a woman killed for protesting white nationalists? This is pathetic. If she were raped it would have been the fault of her skirt length, right Huck? White people are embarrassing themselves. They’re finally not the only voice at the podium, and all of the sudden their heritage is being oppressed. That’s delusional. Let’s talk when your churches are being burned, your children are locked up for smoking weed, your overlooked for a job because of your last name, and you’ve lived through generations of being labeled as scientifically less intelligent then white people. I swear, white people are a bunch of snowflakes.

  9. Huck L. Berry says:

    “Why would a white person not support offering representation to a group of people who are underrepresented in our community?”

    Don’t be confused by her “marginalized group” rhetoric — it’s just a smoke screen for her ulterior agenda. She’s an angry racist that’s constantly threatening employers with walkouts while trying to undermine the very legal system that protects our social contract.

    “The left is responsible for the death of a woman killed for protesting white nationalists?”

    Yes, that is correct — the left shares responsibility. The white nationalists were legally alllowed to organize, but lefties showed up and started fights to provoke a response. The violence escalated and now a person is dead. Nobody is celebrating the killer’s actions, but to deny the left’s culpability in the matter is completely disingenuous.

    Nice screed about white people though, I had a good laugh.

  10. Tom says:

    that’s a theory I haven’t heard yet Huck. So would you then say that the President was goaded by the MSM to revise his statement and condemn hate groups?
    What a spineless POS of a POTUS huh?

  11. Vincent Hanna says:

    He wasted no time in calling the media bad people but he won’t even say that about Nazis! It only took him 54 minutes to bash a successful black businessman, one of the only black CEOs of a Fortune 500 company, but it took him days to criticize white supremacists! Can’t upset his base. Spineless racist POS of a POTUS.

  12. Huck L. Berry says:


    It’s possible he was goaded by the MSM into condemning the groups involved, or he was just waiting for more information before blaming a specific group a/o individual. I don’t have the answer to that. I think it’s better to be late and make an accurate statement based on evidence, than being early and making one based on emotion.

    What I find alarming is the eagerness of many on the left to silence the speech of people they disagree with. I don’t care how toxic the speech is — sunlight is the best antiseptic — and I would much rather hear what people have to say, than telling them they can’t say anything oppositional at all.

  13. Tom says:

    ok Huck. I’ll remember your stance on free speech when ISIS decides they want to march in an American metropolitan community, and you remember it’s the LEFT that wants to squash antiAmerican rhetoric. Deal? Nazis deserve as much freedom in this country as ISIS does. Also, where was this patience for diplomacy when Obama was in charge. I seem
    to recall a major sh-t storm around whether or not he called the Behngazi attacks terrorism before he had all the details. So now we’re all about free speech and diplomacy? Weird.

  14. Huck L. Berry says:

    “I seem to recall a major sh-t storm around whether or not he called the Behngazi attacks terrorism before he had all the details.”

    I seem to recall Obama rushing to blame Benghazi on a video before he had all the details. Let’s not forget the “workplace violence” of Ft Hood, San Bernardino, et al. The left has a credibility problem when it comes to standing up to Muslims, so save your tough guy talk about ISIS until your actions actually support your bravado.

    “So now we’re all about free speech and diplomacy? Weird.”

    Real Americans have always been about free speech and diplomacy. Sorry you didn’t get the memo. You probably think antifa is a patriotic movement though. Weird.

  15. Joseph Thomas Klein says:

    Don’t feed the trolls.

  16. Jim M says:

    Yup, let’s blame Obama and Hillary and Bernie and Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, JHC, Santa Claus, Tom Barrett, Wendell Wilke, and so on and so on and so, stick our head in the sand and pretend none of this happened.

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