Texts Show Sheriff Clarke Wanted Man Hassled For Shaking His Head At Him

David Clarke, Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis., salutes after speaking during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Text messages show that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke ordered his deputies to question a man for not keeping his “mouth shut” with him as he boarded a plane on Jan. 15.

“Just a field interview, no arrest unless he becomes an asshole with you guys,” one text message from Clarke to a deputy reads. “Question for him is why he said anything to me. Why didn’t he just keep his mouth shut? Follow him to baggage and out the door”

The messages, provided by the attorney representing the man Clarke had ordered detained, Dan Black, were published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Thursday.

Black alleged in a February lawsuit against Clarke and his deputies that, as he boarded a plane to Milwaukee, he ran into a seated Clarke decked out in Dallas Cowboys gear but without his signature cowboy hat. Black asked if Clarke was the Milwaukee sheriff. Clarke affirmed that he was, to which Black, a Bernie Sanders supporter, shook his head. Clarke asked Black if he had a problem. Black shook his head no.

Clarke’s attorneys’ account of the exchange roughly matches Black’s.

After the flight landed at Mitchell International Airport, two sheriff’s deputies confronted Black. They questioned him about the exchange and, eventually, escorted him directly out of the airport.

But the incident didn’t end there. On its Facebook page, three days after the incident, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office posted a link to Black’s account and responded to it:

Sheriff Clarke commented on complaint sent to the media:Next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they…

Posted by Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The next day, the same page posted a meme featuring Black:

Sheriff Clarke regrets that he cannot attend this juvenile, leftist, anti-cop tantrum. He is pleased that he has their…

Posted by Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, January 19, 2017

Federal prosecutors decided in early May not to press charges. A county audit of the incident — which began in January, and with which Clarke has been predictably uncooperative — is on hold, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Clarke, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, claimed on May 17 that he had been offered a position in the Department of Homeland Security. But no one in the federal government has confirmed that to TPM, despite repeated requests for comment, nor to other outlets.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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