Democrats are "screwing around" in an effort to keep black voters "on the plantation," Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said in a Thursday interview, after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made a direct appeal to them in a speech in the Wisconsin city earlier this month.
Clarke, a black conservative Democrat, made the comments on the same day Hillary Clinton delivered a speech accusing Trump of racism and on which the Democratic presidential nominee's campaign released a video attempting to associate Donald Trump with members of the Ku Klux Klan.
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Clarke said Democrats have been reacting to the remarks Trump directed at black voters. "It was a brilliant political strategic move," Clarke said of Trump's speech. "Nobody saw that coming."
"He caught the Democrats off guard," Clarke added. "They thought he was going to ignore the black vote. They just assumed that. Trust me, they're not showing it and they're not saying it, but that caused them great consternation. Now they have to go to back to some of their strongholds where the black vote is and reassure people, keep them on the plantation."
"Don't let them off the plantation," Clarke said Democrats were telling themselves. "Don't let them wander off like I did. Now they've got to spend resources in areas where they didn't think they would have to. Which is why I say it was a brilliant political move."
Clarke, who has worked in law enforcement for nearly four decades and who spoke at the Republican National Convention in July, said he advised Trump that Democratic policies had encouraged the rise of an "urban pathology" that resulted in more murders in the black community, especially among young people.
"Many good, law-abiding black people get caught in gang fights, the crossfire, and those black lives don't seem to matter," Clarke said. "I've asked myself why it is that our young black men, not all of them, but too many of them gravitate towards questionable lifestyle choices, gang involvement, drug dealing. Why is it? It's a cultural thing. That's why I call it cultural dysfunction."
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"When [Trump] was here in Milwaukee, following the riots, we had a private meeting, and I kind of brought up this thing that leads to these sort of situations. The riots have a condition, it's not about the police, the use of force, the police general, it's not about whether black lives matter. It's about these urban pathologies that have been in place for a long time and these failed progressive policies," he said.
In his speech this month, Trump said, "Look at how much African American communities are suffering from Democratic control. To those I say the following: What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? ... You live in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?"
Clarke emphasized that he saw the speech as a blow to Democrats. "His outreach, nobody saw that coming. They're screwing around right now realizing they're going to have to shore up a demographic they take for granted."