Black Lives Matter is an "anarchist movement" that masks itself using poor and disadvantaged people in order to gain broader support, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said in a Thursday interview with the Washington Examiner.

Clarke, a black Democratic sheriff who has sided with many conservatives against Black Lives Matter, traced the movement back to other groups that fostered civil unrest in the 1960s.

"After what I saw happen in the Ferguson riots, Baltimore, and a lot of the agitation that happened, I started reading up on this movement," said Clarke, who has led the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office since 2002. "I knew it was an anarchist movement."

"So I started reading up on the history of this anarchist movement here in the United States. I learned a lot, I saw what was happening today, and it ran parallel with what was happening in the 1960s, and I called it out early on," Clarke said. "I said this has nothing to do with black lives. This is an anarchist movement that has [been] masked, wrapped around using poor blacks."

"They put that on as a mask to gain support and sympathy from the unsuspecting public who might be watching this from afar, reading about it in a newspaper or watching it on TV," Clarke added. "I started unmasking them."

Clarke, a career law enforcement officer who worked also as a patrol officer and detective, began his career with the Milwaukee police in 1978. He said he became more outspoken in his views after he saw the political side as sheriff, and especially after events in recent years.

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"I found it an untenable position to hold, not engaging in politics as a cop. We got dragged into this," Clarke said. "My thought at the time was, based on my understanding after doing research on this movement, that if I did not engage and defend this profession, this profession was going to become weakened."

"Cops are one of the front lines of order and liberty. We defend the rule of law. We're not the end of the rule of law, but we're on the front lines of it," Clarke said. "And chaos, what these riots are, this agitation, it's an attempt to create chaos and weaken the rule of law. Once that comes crashing down, it's the law of the jungle. That's every man for himself. It's survival of the fittest mode. It's very crude, very primitive, but that's what happens during a riot."

Clarke has been overseeing the aftermath of rioting that took place for several days in Milwaukee earlier this month. That incident arose after a police officer was forced to shoot a suspect wielding a gun.