It is the second time in recent months that David Clarke has been removed from a speaking engagement following community pushback.
The Utah Sheriff’s Association has canceled a polarizing ex-sheriff’s speech after it was pushed back by a local NAACP leader concerned about the message David Clarke would bring to state law enforcement.
Clarke, a former Milwaukee County sheriff, was scheduled to deliver the keynote Wednesday at the annual Utah sheriff’s conference. But Jeanetta Williams, president of the Utah chapter of the NAACP, told a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune on Friday night that she spoke with the sheriffs association and was able to have Clarke’s appearance dropped.
Williams said Monday she made phone calls and emailed sheriffs last week to “tell them that bringing in David Clarke was not the right thing to do.”
“It would really destroy the working relationship that the NAACP has established with law enforcement,” she said. “They agreed.”
Clarke is a controversial figure who spoke at a QAnon convention and showed his support for the far-right militia group Proud Boys. He called for Black Lives Matter to be considered a hate group and called the organization “Black Lies Matter”. In 2015, he called the NAACP “nothing more than a political propaganda entity for the left.”
Williams said her organization was not “police-hating,” as Clarke indicated, and noted that she supported law enforcement. She is currently a member of the Utah Peace Officer Training and Standards Council, which certifies and sets training standards for law enforcement and takes disciplinary action against officers. Williams has also worked with Utah lawmakers to pass police reform bills.
The NAACP leader said she’s concerned that having a speaker promote views such as Clarke’s to Utah law enforcement would harm the collaborative environment she has. worked to create to foster better policing in Utah.
“We continued to work with law enforcement to bring the community and law enforcement together, not to divide us,” she said. “I felt that having David Clarke speak here would really set back our work efforts.”
Williams said she appreciated the sheriffs listened to her concerns and were willing to act.
Neither Cache County Sheriff Chad Jensen, president of the Utah Sheriffs Association, nor Scott Burns, its executive director, responded to a request for comment on Monday, or previous requests for comment on the ruling. to schedule Clarke’s appearance.
The organization removed a flyer from its website announcing Clarke’s speech, and a draft agenda that included Clarke was also removed Monday morning.
Clarke did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. After The Tribune published an article last week about her upcoming appearance, Clarke wrote on Facebook: “While the liberal media tries to label people as extremist, controversial, polarizing and anything that tries to silence your voice …just remember there’s a reason behind it! Your voice matters! NEVER be silenced. The harder they try, the more you should speak.
It is the second time in recent months that Clarke has been removed from speaking to law enforcement after community backlash.
He was supposed to be the keynote speaker at a July conference for school resource officers in Oregon, according to The Oregonian, but organizers at the Oregon School Resource Officers Association dropped him from the agenda after that advocates of police reform have wondered why such a polarizing figure was given. a public platform to talk to the police.
Clarke called the cancellation a “speech suppression” during a recent Newsmax appearance.
“What’s disappointing is that this association of school resources, they gave in,” he said. “They backed off. There hasn’t been a bigger supporter of law enforcement in the past five to ten years than me, and I have the scars to prove it. I wish these people had held on. People who make noise are enemies of the cops, anyway.
Clarke resigned as sheriff of Milwaukee County in 2017 for a job with the US Department of Homeland Security, which failed. He was a regular commentator on Fox News and, more recently, on the right-wing cable channel Newsmax.