Trump’s potential Homeland Security chief says anti-Trump protests ‘must be quelled’

Sheriff Clarke thinks some protests are more “legitimate” than others.

Protesters hold signs during a protest against the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle. CREDIT: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Protesters hold signs during a protest against the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle. CREDIT: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The First Amendment protects the right of to join together in peaceful protest. And on Wednesday night, many Americans throughout the country did just that in response to the election of Donald Trump.

But as those protests occurred, one of Trump’s potential choices to lead the Department of Homeland Security tweeted that they “must be quelled” because “there is no legitimate reason to protest the will of the people.” He included a picture of himself brandishing a U.S. Constitution for emphasis.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is one of two names being floated to become Donald Trump’s Homeland Security secretary, according to Politico.

Not all of Wednesday’s protests were peaceful. In Oakland, for instance, businesses were reportedly vandalized. But Clarke made made no distinction between constitutionally protected speech and criminal behavior. The implication of his tweet is that any protest of Trump’s victory — a victory that came despite the fact more people voted for Hillary Clinton than Trump — must be “quelled.”

Clarke’s language isn’t necessarily surprising. He blamed protests that erupted in Milwaukee in August, following the fatal police shooting of Sylville Smith, on “the growth of the underclass.” In 2014, he characterized protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, as “vultures on a roadside carcass.” But Wednesday’s remarks are especially chilling when they come from someone who could be a top-ranking law enforcement official under the next President.

Ironically, just last month, Clarke called for the very thing he now refers to as merely “temper tantrums.” When Trump’s electoral prospects looked dire in mid-October, Clarke called for “pitchforks and torches” to protest the country’s “corrupt” institutions.

Trump himself called for protests after Mitt Romney’s loss in the presidential election four years ago. Despite the fact that Romney lost to President Obama in both the popular and electoral votes, Trump called on people to “march on Washington” on Election Night 2012.

The other person reportedly in the mix for the Homeland Security job is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie’s reputation is in tatters since two of his top lieutenants were convicted earlier this month for orchestrating a 2013 shutdown of traffic onto the George Washington Bridge as an act of political retribution.