Who is David Clarke?

Trump may tap the extremist sheriff to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

David Clarke salutes after speaking during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
David Clarke salutes after speaking during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

With the crucial role of Homeland Security secretary still vacant in President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet, there is speculation that he will tap Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to lead the agency. Clarke has said he will accept the position if it is offered to him.

The decision would give Clarke, a loyal Trump surrogate and potentially the only person of color to join the cabinet, his first national platform. As DHS secretary, he would run the government’s third-largest agency, which is tasked with overseeing two of Trump’s biggest campaign priorities: fighting terrorism and enforcing immigration laws.

But Clarke, an elected sheriff currently serving his fourth full term, has little experience with international terror organizations or with shaping immigration policy. Instead, the hallmark of the right-wing extremist’s career has been speaking out about the “war on cops” while using racist, sexist, and offensive language to disparage activists, and protesters, specifically the Black Lives Matter movement.

This week, he called young demonstrators upset about the election outcome “entitled, coddled, petulant snowflakes.” And in that same op-ed, he wrote of his worries of the “college-aged two-year-old behaving generation who willingly escalate the violence against cops.”

Here are some things you should know about the man who may be tasked with protecting the country:

He believes “war has been declared” on cops in America.

Official FBI data shows violence against law enforcement has actually decreased in recent years — 2013 was the safest year on record for cops. Nevertheless, Clarke frequently points to Black Lives Matter activists and others calling attention to the high rate at which black Americans are killed by police, alleging that they are calling for violence against law enforcement.

After the fatal shooting of five cops in Dallas, Texas in July, Clarke said in a Fox News interview that he has maintained for years that “war had been declared on the American police officer.”

“The American police officer knows it has,” he said. “This is just another chapter in that war.”

He thinks “there is no police brutality in America.”

Almost 1,200 people were shot and killed by police officers last year, and this year’s total is on track to be similarly high. But Clarke believes that police brutality is not an issue.


“First of all, there is no police brutality in America. We ended that back in the ’60s,” he told Fox News last October. “You look at the data and the research, and there’s a new Harvard study out that shows that there is no racism in the hearts of police officers. They go about their daily duty, if you will, to keep communities safe.”

He called for riots when Trump said the election was “rigged.”

As polls showed Trump trailing Hillary Clinton, the sheriff repeatedly claimed that the election was “rigged” against his candidate. Clarke took that a step further, writing on Twitter that people should riot against the corrupt government.

“Pitchforks and torches time,” he wrote alongside a stock photo of an angry mob.

He also frequently talks about an insurrection rising up to prevent the federal government from seizing people’s guns, including in speeches to the National Rifle Association’s annual conferences.

He wants the National Guard to shut down anti-Trump protests.

After the election last week, Clarke seized on reports of violent protests and claimed that Clinton supporters were rioting in the streets.


On Twitter, he denounced the “goon anarchists” who “do not believe in the US Constitution or the rule of law,” and called for the the National Guard to get involved.

It’s not the only time that he has used Twitter since the election to disparage protesters. On November 11, he retweeted a now-deleted fake quote claiming George Soros was intentionally funding “Black hate groups” to “bring down the United States.”

During the demonstrations in Ferguson, he also called the mostly peaceful protesters “vultures on a roadside carcass.”

He’s called Black Lives Matter activists “black slime” who need to be “eradicated.”

In a Fox News interview in 2015, Clarke called for Americans to use vigilante justice against members of the Black Lives Matter movement, who he said should be “eradicated from American society.”

He also frequently uses his Twitter account to attack the group.

His county incarcerates more black people than any other U.S. county.

According to City Lab, “Wisconsin’s reputation as the top state for African American incarceration per capita is owed, in large part, to Milwaukee County and Clarke’s methods of policing it.”


More than half of African-American men in their 30s in Milwaukee County have served prison time, thanks in large part to Clarke’s tough-on-crime style of policing and harsh stance on drug crimes. The number of black men incarcerated in Wisconsin has skyrocketed since 1990, and the majority of the state’s black residents live in Milwaukee County.

He calls Hillary Clinton “Mrs. Bill Clinton.”

Clarke refused to call Hillary Clinton by her name throughout the campaign, referring to her instead as “Mrs. Bill Clinton.”