Democrats react to Clarke resignation as Walker ponders replacement
When David A. Clarke Jr. resigned without explanation Aug. 31, it left Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with the power to appoint Milwaukee County's next sheriff.
Clarke later announced he's taking a position as senior adviser and spokesman for America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC.
Clarke's resignation capped a tumultuous year for the divisive, provocative lawman with a national following among some conservatives. Though he always ran as a Democrat, he addressed the Republican National Convention in 2016, parroted farright-wing positions and supported Donald Trump as a candidate and as president.
But while Clarke gained the admiration of some conservative backers of Trump, he faced lawsuits back home and criticism over the operations at the county jail he oversaw, where four inmates died last year. One of the inmates — a mentally ill man — died of dehydration because jail staff shut off water to his solitary cell as punishment.
Many in Wisconsin's progressive community issued statements welcoming Clarke's resignation but vowing he would not escape accountability for abuse committed on his watch. Among them:
“This is a victory for the people of Milwaukee County and the state of Wisconsin. … The efforts of immigrant families and our coalition partners to hold Clarke accountable for his discriminatory abuses, for the torture, sexual abuse and deaths at the hands of his guards in his jail, have won this victory. We demanded his resignation and … we have succeeded.”
“This news is bittersweet, as we are left with incomplete answers regarding what led to the massive failures in his jail. Sadly, the public may never get a full accounting from Clarke regarding his failures, which is why it is important for the legal system to take whatever action they deem appropriate.” “I want to thank Sheriff Clarke for his decision to step down. After years of abuse at his hands, the people of Milwaukee can sleep soundly tonight.” “I will continue to push Gov. Scott Walker and the Justice Department to hold Clarke responsible for the lives destroyed under his watch like Terrill Thomas', Michael Madden's, Kristina Fiebrink's and Shadé Swayzer's newborn baby girl.
“In the meantime, I call on Gov. Walker to appoint a sheriff who will take their job seriously, value compassion over condescension and put people before politics.”
Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.