Controversial Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke confirmed on Wednesday that he would be joining the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), prompting a chorus of outrage from those who say the cop who once compared Black Lives Matter to the KKK is unfit for the job.
Clarke told a Milwaukee radio show that he would be appointed as assistant secretary in the Office of Partnership and Engagement, where he will pressure local police departments to enforce President Donald Trump's tough immigration rules. The post does not require Senate confirmation.
His announcement comes just a month after a grand jury recommended charges against several staff members at one of Clarke's Milwaukee jails, where an inmate with bipolar disorder died after he was deprived of water for a week.
Clarke has also been slammed for controversial statements about racial justice activists, in one instance saying Black Lives Matter and the Islamic State (ISIS) were teaming up in a plot to destroy America. He also signed on to a controversial federal program, 287(g), which allows his deputies in Milwaukee County to act as Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents, conducting raids and deportations.
In August of last year, he responded to a fatal police shooting in Milwaukee by saying impoverished communities of color were responsible for the victim's death.
The Wisconsin-based immigration reform advocacy group Voces de la Frontera said Wednesday that Clarke was "unfit for any office."
"Trump's appointment of Clarke shows this administration's disregard for human rights."
Voces de la Frontera
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"Trump's appointment of Clarke shows this administration's disregard for human rights," said the organization's executive director Christine Neumann-Ortiz.
She called for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to replace Clarke with a sheriff who will "withdraw from 287g, end collaboration with Trump's campaign of mass deportation and terror against immigrant families, and support reforms to prevent deaths and abuses at the Milwaukee County Jail."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin tweeted, "The [Department of Justice] was going to investigate Sheriff Clarke. Now, he's taking a top spot at Dept. of Homeland Security. Yes, we've sued him before."
Larry Dupuis, ACLU-Wisconsin's legal director, told the Washington Post, "Sheriff Clarke has never shown himself to be particularly interested in working well with others. Public engagement is an innocuous-sounding position, but I don't really think it is. He can do damage."
Disappointment and outrage went beyond the advocacy sector as well. Juliette N. Kayyem, who was DHS assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs under former President Barack Obama, told the New York Times, "I am floored. And feel for my career staff."
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted, "Sheriff David Clarke's unconscionable record makes him unfit to serve. This appointment is a disgrace."