By now we’re sure you saw the heated exchange between CNN’s Don Lemon and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke that went viral yesterday. Just to recap, Sheriff Clarke, a black man, essentially blamed Black Lives Matter for the deaths of the three Baton Rouge police officers who were killed Sunday morning at the hands of an ex-military Missouri man. And during his appearance on CNN, he told Lemon:
“My message has been clear from day one two years ago. This anti-cop sentiment from this hateful ideology called Black Lives Matter has fueled this rage against the American police officer. I predicted this two years ago.”
Questioned whether he actually knew for sure Black Lives Matter was responsible for the latest officer murders, Clarke adamantly declared, “Yes I do,” stating:
“This anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country has turned out some hateful things inside of people that are now playing themselves out on the American police officer.” And just as he wrapped up a rendition of the same old black-on-black crime song, he added “These people preach vile and virtue in the name of hate.” And then Lemon cut him off.
Who knew it would take a black man even less woke than Lemon to make viewers finally regain some ounce of respect for the news anchor? But more importantly, who put the battery in Sheriff Clarke’s back?
The RNC of course.
It should come as no surprise that Clarke also spoke at the Republican National Convention last night (as did Lemon), no doubt riling up attendees hellbent on classifying Black Lives Matter as a terrorist group. And for the life of me I can’t imagine how a man like Clarke could put his badge before his blackness. The former might shield him from the fate too many black men have suffered in this country as of late, but the latter makes him an ever present target of the real hate that’s plaguing this country, and that he can never take off, no matter what uniform he wears by day.
Clarke, like Dallas Police Chief David O’Neal Brown, is in a unique position to actually speak to both sides of this heavily divided issue of police brutality and alleged anti-cop rhetoric. And yet every time someone from “their side” speaks, it’s as though they don’t even recognize that their identity is as much wrapped up in the victims of these national cases as it is the perpetrators of said violence. If anyone could speak to the need for police reform, the inherent discrimination of the criminal justice system, and the socioeconomic factors that set these men up to be murdered by the ones paid to protect society, it would be a black man on the force. But here we are looking at two brothers who only want us to see the color blue when they speak and, truthfully, that just leaves me seeing red.
Watching men like Brown and Clarke takes me back to 2009 when Michael Steele was elected the first African-American chairperson of the Republican National Committee. Steele was poised to be the republican’s answer to President Barack Obama, but rarely did we hear from the great black hope during his short tenure. And it should come as no surprise when he sought reelection as chairperson in 2011 he was unsuccessful. He’d served the RNC’s purpose for the time and his services were no longer needed.
I wonder what men like Brown and Clarke are going to do when they realize their services are no longer needed? When cop killings are no longer national news and they have to go back to doing the real work of policing their communities with no backing from on high. When another black man is killed and they’re instructed to go about business as usual. When they’re no longer cops but just two regular black men when they walk down the street, relegating them to one of the easiest targets in America. When they realize they sold their soul merely to keep a job or climb the ranks of the force, leaving an even more vulnerable African American community and broken society behind.