Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Community Groups Hail Clarke’s Resignation

Anti-Clarke groups declare victory, push Walker on replacement he appoints.

By , Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service - Sep 5th, 2017 11:58 am
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David Clarke. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons.

David Clarke. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons.

Leaders of a community coalition and an elected official who called for Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to step down are hailing his sudden resignation as a victory, but saying there is still work to be done.

“That’s what we’ve been fighting for,” said Voces de la Frontera Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz.

Voces is a member of the Coalition for a People’s Sheriff, a group of organizations convened to defeat Clarke because of his “incompetent,” “unethical” and “inhumane” actions. Clarke has been in office since he was appointed in 2002. Since April 2016, six people have died — the most recent earlier this week — while incarcerated at the Milwaukee County Jail, which was managed by Clarke. He has also been criticized for using county funds while traveling for media engagements.

Recently, a grand jury recommended charges against seven people involved in the detention of Terrill Thomas, who died of dehydration while in the county jail. Neumann-Ortiz and Milwaukee County District 10 Supervisor Supreme Moore-Omokunde suggested scrutiny for those actions should extend to Clarke, who Neumann-Ortiz said, “promoted a culture of neglect and abuse.”

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm will decide who to charge in the case. The DA’s office did not respond to questions about when a decision could be expected, or whether charges are being considered against Clarke.

Thousands of people demonstrated for immigrant rights, in a May Day march organized by Voces de la Frontera earlier this year. Photo by Sue Vliet.

Thousands of people demonstrated for immigrant rights, in a May Day march organized by Voces de la Frontera earlier this year. Photo by Sue Vliet.

While in office, Clarke also applied to take part in the federal 287(g) program, which trains and authorizes deputies to act as immigration agents. The program was popularized by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and has been called racially discriminatory. Arpaio was recently pardoned by President Donald Trump after being convicted of criminal contempt for violating a court order designed to stop illegally detaining people because of their suspected immigration status.

Clarke was in Nashville for a National Fraternal Order of Police convention when a resignation letter was delivered to the Milwaukee County Clerk just before noon Thursday. In a written statement from the Sheriff’s Office, Clarke, whose term would have ended next year, said, “I have chosen to retire to pursue other opportunities.” Clarke declined to answer additional questions about the reason and timing of the decision.

Gov. Scott Walker will appoint an interim sheriff who will serve until next year, when voters will elect a new sheriff. Walker’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Walker ignored calls from Voces, the Coalition for a People’s Sheriff and others, to remove Clarke from office. Neumann-Ortiz said mounting pressure — including two statewide boycotts and demonstrations that attracted tens of thousands as well as the threat of lawsuits and possible criminal charges related to the jail deaths — contributed to Clarke’s departure. She said it is “an example of the pressure that can be brought to bear when we unite and when we have clear demands around the kind of community we want to build.”

In a statement, the Wisconsin Working Families Party questioned Walker’s willingness to listen to constituents now.

“Scott Walker has been asleep at the switch while grave abuses were committed against members of our community in Milwaukee County jails,” said Rebecca Lynch, political director of the Wisconsin Working Families Party. “The Wisconsin Working Families Party demands a sheriff who upholds the dignity, life and health of all Milwaukee residents.”

In June, when Clarke was being considered for a federal appointment, The Coalition for a People’s Sheriff submitted a letter to Walker outlining a platform that opposed the implementation of 287(g) and endorsed a sheriff who would work with the community to protect human rights and address systematic abuse against traditionally marginalized groups.

Neumann-Ortiz encouraged residents to call and email Walker — as well as sign a petition that Voces will re-release — urging him to appoint someone whose character aligns with the platform. She said it’s important to “send a message,” calling this “an opportunity for the people to really put pressure to make sure that these abuses end.”

Ultimately, voters will have an opportunity to elect a new sheriff in 2018. According to Neumann-Ortiz, it’s essential that the new sheriff work with residents to address Milwaukee’s “shameful” legacy of poverty and mass incarceration in an effort to build “strong and beautiful communities where all families can prosper.”

She said, “That’s the community we want built, and it’s up to the people to make that happen.”

On Sept. 18, the first day of the state’s legislative session, Voces will be in Madison to protest Assembly Bill 190, which would require municipalities to hold people for 48 hours who were arrested for a crime and suspected of being in the country illegally.

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

9 thoughts on “Community Groups Hail Clarke’s Resignation”

  1. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    “Yeah” sez the lefties, we got rid of the only guy opposing our programs to reduce crime that have not worked.
    Those programs we use brought on the worst crime wave in history, kids shot on their front porches, heroin overdose deaths daily.
    We can now show everyone how we can make things worse, beg the state to let us tax our already high taxes more to pad the salaries and bennies of the bureaucrats to pork up our votes.

  2. Vincent Hanna says:

    You have to admit that Clarke really wasn’t interested in doing the job anymore. Look at how often he was out of the county. Look at how much money he made giving speeches. He’s been unusually quiet for many months now. Love Clarke all you want, but the man was absent from the job he was elected to. He got a taste of fame and chose to leverage it. Good for him. Nothing wrong with that. But we need someone who wants to be here every day, and that’s not Clarke.

  3. about time that IDIOT is out of here. He did NOTHING FOR MILWAUKEE. He fabricated he was a democrat on his ticket when elected.. . He BULLIED a man on an airplane and then used his power to try to get him arrested. Not to mention bullied him on social media .BUT THE WORST WAS- He did NOTHING for the people who DIED in our jails.HOW AWFUL . He reminds me of some sort of gang member who thinks he can do whatever he chooses and no repercussions will come. WE should have gotten rid of him YEARS ago. I cant believe Alderman Donovan ACTUALLY THANKED HIM. this city is turning into Detroit ,Mi. such a sad waste of a once beautiful place.

  4. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Monica you are so full of crap, must hurt.
    Your argument is with those white, male, liberal, racists that control Milwaukee. They are the root cause of the crime wave, heroin epidemic, abandoned homes, bad roads, youth unemployment, human trafficking, carjacking, car theft, top ten worst run city in country, top ten worst crime, MPS is “national disgrace” by Obama cabinet, 57% of youth unemployed, Milwaukee county Govt. joke of state, high taxes, corruption, regulations and more.
    Clarke pointed this out and got the anger of the Left.
    He got 80% in his last election, people love him, corrupt leaders hate him,.
    As to the jail. You put 1000 of Milwaukee’s worst people in one place and bad things happen. Some people did not follow procedures and are up for indictment as they should be but learn the facts before you blow off. There are investigations going on for all of them and who screwed up.
    House of correction was mess, Clarke took over and fixed it. Jail has been give the highest marks by Dept of Correction, staffed by mostly democrats.
    We have lots of bad people of all shapes, sizes, etc in Milwaukee and they are running wild.
    Clarke had little jurisdiction in these matters so look to Barrett/Chisholm/Abele/Flynn/Kremers for solutions as things will now get worse.
    With Clarke gone there will only be Frankovis that knows what to do as the Journal is apologist for the corruption.

  5. Vincent Hanna says:

    Four deaths in a short period of time at a county jail made national news because it’s more than just “bad things happen.” That is flippant nonsense. So much for being pro-life. It’s always someone else’s fault too. It’s not Clarke’s fault even though he had direct oversight. It’s Obama/Barrett/Chisholm/Abele/Flynn/Kremers who are to blame. They were mean to Clarke and hurt his feelings. Notice how personal accountability for conservatives never applies to them, only others. It’s do as they say, not as they do.

    White, male, liberal racists are to blame if your dog is hit by a car! Look at that list. They are to blame for everything!

  6. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    All death are investigated. Did they lay Clarke to blame? How come Dept of Corrections, run by the Dems, gave the jail higher marks?
    Clarke cannot comment on ongoing investigations. if there are trials which their will likely be, he cannot jeopardize them. Tell us dear folks list the deaths and what were the causes. Who was to blame?
    Facts fly, BS does not and that is there is from the Left on this Lefty site. Little of value to the public from he Left in any matters cause they have proved that they cannot run a whore house in the Klondike, at height of Gold rush.into.

  7. Rich says:

    “Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest (sic)”

    Two questions. 1) Is that intentionally mispelled? and 2) Why do all your comments basically run like, “LIBRUL LIBRUL LIBRUL libs lefty leftist Left Left Left LIBRUL LIBRUL LIBRUL”?

    One more: Why all the the deflection? Why is everything that’s bad some lefty leftist LIBRUL LIBRUL’s fault? Clarke was an AWFUL sheriff. Why not just admit it?

  8. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Rich, your intellectualcommetns are too tough fro me.

    Question Everyone:
    How many deaths were in the jails controlled by Dems in Wisconsin? Racine, kenosha, Dane, Brown, Left?
    Would you want to hang those sheriffs?
    Which jail got the best marks from the democratic run Dept. of corrections?

  9. MKE kid says:

    What the heck does Clarke have anything to do with law enforcement in Milwaukee county, “Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest?” The MCSO staff is down to 1/3 of what it was since Clarke was appointed. All the MCSO does anymore is patrol the freeways (very poorly since the deputies are spread so thin,) bailiff duties (do you want sugar with your coffee, your honor?) and some administrative duties in the horribly understaffed CJF.

    The day to day law enforcement in Milwaukee county is handled by police departments. Wake up.

    Also, “Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest,” Wisconsin’s DOJ and government is republican controlled. We should’ve known by the stellar performance of administration at Lincoln Hills.

    Also, “80%” in the last election? Please. Moews, a total unknown, got 47% and Clarke got 53%.

    Just stop with your nonsense, “Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest.” You’re making yourself look really, really dumb. You’re doing a very poor job of being a blathering troll.

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