Former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, now a regular commentator on Fox News and a spokesman for a Pro-Trump super PAC, was locked out of his Twitter account this week after posting several violent tweets.
The tweets in question included violent threats against the media and liberals, which Clarke posted response to a report highlighting a March 2017 search warrant for Clarke’s emails, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Although the FBI had been investigating possible civil rights violations against Clarke at the time over an encounter with a fellow airplane passenger, federal prosecutors had ultimately decided not to file charges.
“BREAKING NEWS! When LYING LIB MEDIA makes up FAKE NEWS to smear me, the ANTIDOTE is go right at them,” Clarke tweeted on December 30. “Punch them in the nose & MAKE THEM TASTE THEIR OWN BLOOD. Nothing gets a bully like LYING LIB MEDIA’S attention better than to give them a taste of their own blood #neverbackdown.”
In a separate tweet, Clarke boasted about “getting under the skin of lefties” and threatened to “smack [liberals] around” until they “crawl[ed] back to [their] mom’s basement.”
“Nothing like getting under the skin of lefties like I did today,” he wrote. “I fight to win. You come at me libs you better bring a hard hat, some aspirin and your veggie wrap because it’s going to be a long day and I’m going to smack you around until you crawl back to your mom’s basement.”
Although several users reported the tweets, Twitter initially determined that Clarke’s tweets did not violate of its rules against abusive behavior. In an email, the social media giant explained that it “could not identify” any offensive material and therefore would not take any action to ban or freeze the former sheriff’s account.
“Winning against LYING LIB MEDIA and Whiney SNOWFLAKES again,” Clarke tweeted later. “Like @realDonaldTrump said, we’ll win so much we’ll get tired of winning. Not yet however. Diaper wearing lefty didn’t like my metaphor reference to punching LYING LIB MEDIA in the nose. Twitter said no violation. Duh.”
By Monday evening, however, Twitter officials had reversed course, stating that they had locked Clarke’s account because it was “in violation of the Twitter Rules.”
“If the account owner complies with our requested actions and stated policies, the account will be unlocked,” they wrote in a support email to several users. According to CNN, Clarke’s account was placed in “read-only” mode and he was told to delete the abusive posts before he could tweet again.
As of Tuesday morning, several of the offending tweets had been deleted and Clarke’s account was again active.
Twitter spokespersons did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Twitter has come under fire previously for the way it handled similarly abusive tweets or accounts. In November 2016, around the same time that Twitter officials issued a statement prohibiting “violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse,” the platform suspended white nationalist Richard Spencer’s account. Officials claimed that they had done so because Spencer had violated Twitter’s multiple accounts policy, according to the Washington Post, but not because of his many racist tweets.
Spencer’s account was restored a few weeks later in December 2016, and his blue verification badge reinstated, despite concerns from the Southern Poverty Law Center over his pro-white supremacist content.
In November 2017, Twitter announced it was “working on a new authentication and verification program” and would be “conducting an initial review of verified accounts and will remove verification from accounts whose behavior does not fall within these new guidelines.” Spencer, as well as a number of other white nationalist, neo-Nazi, and right-wing extremist accounts, had their blue verification badges revoked. His Twitter account remains active.
This post has been updated to reflect new information reported by CNN on Tuesday afternoon, regarding the conditions of Clarke’s return to Twitter following his temporary freeze.