Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. spoke to the Baldwin County Republican Party at their “We Back the Blue” banquet on Thursday at the Daphne Civic Center. He covered a variety of topics, including law enforcement, education, division within the Republican party, and gun rights.

“It was a privilege and an honor that the people of Milwaukee County elected me,” Clarke said. “My heart was doing everything I could to create a safe environment for them and their families.”

Clarke said that while many of his constituents were political liberals and he was known to be very conservative, “when it comes to schools and public safety, we all share the same priorities. It is your number one responsibility to ensure the safety of your citizens.”

Clarke was formerly a guest commentator on Fox News.

“Fox went in a different direction, and now to see me [on television], watch Newsmax,” Clarke said. “The Defund the Police movement was designed to do what it did and that was to weaken and destroy the police. They did the same thing in the 1960s, same group, same ideology.

“They are anti-American,” Clarke said. “These were communists.”

Clarke said that the purpose of defunding the police was “to create chaos and dissent”.

Clarke said that he makes a great effort to be informed on the issues that he discusses.

“I have been to the border five times, being briefed by the Border Patrol on what is going on, so I can talk intelligently about the border situation when it comes up,” Clarke said. “My book 'Cop Under Fire' gives you a deeper dive into who David Clarke is.

“These issues are front and center all the time. They will simmer down for a while, but they will be back.”

Clarke said that conservatives need to do a better job at messaging. Liberals use short, easy-to-understand-and-remember slogans, while too often conservatives cite a lengthy think tank research paper.

“We have to be better at messaging,” Clarke said. “We need better messages. We have to control the narrative.”

Clarke said that he often advises parent groups that speak to school boards about issues that concern them, such as Critical Race Theory.

“Don’t try to change their mind - you won’t be able to,” Clarke said.

Clarke advises those parents to show their anger rather than be polite. “I am not here to be liked. That is not one of my goals. I am glad that you accept me but being liked is not one of my goals. Don’t be afraid to pound the table. They aren’t listening to you. Conduct a sit-in, protest, boycott, tactics that work to effect social change.”

Clarke said that at a hearing ignore the time limits. “Three minutes? Who set that rule? The school board? When they tell you your three minutes is up, say ‘No, I am not done speaking yet.’ ‘Ma'am, if you don’t sit down, we will have you removed.’ ‘Good, go ahead and remove me.’ You might get a ticket. Ask for a jury trial.”

 Clarke said that there is a division within the Republican Party.

“There are a lot of things going on in the Republican Party,” Clarke said. “I don’t belong to a political party. I never have. But there is a schism going on in the Republican Party on what direction the party should go.”

Clarke said that on one hand there are the “Limited government, low taxes” people, and on the other hand are the establishment types who are growing government.

Clarke spoke on school shootings, saying that liberals capitalize on those events to take away gun rights in the name of protecting children. 

“Do you care about kids? Yes, I care about kids, but I also care about my damn rights,” Clarke said.

“I am a Tenth Amendment guy,” Clarke said. “I don’t want the federal government telling the state what they will and what they won’t do. The Founding Fathers were scared of a large central government. This is what we have, and that is what they were afraid of.”

Clarke praised former President Ronald Reagan (R).

“Ronald Reagan articulated a meaning and vision of conservatism like nobody before and nobody afterward,” Clarke said and then quoted from Reagan’s famous 1964 ‘A time for choosing’ speech delivered during the Barry Goldwater campaign.

Clarke said that law enforcement officers in this country are “under siege, under-resourced, underpaid and expected to do miracles.

“Keep fighting because, without you, your communities will collapse into chaos and decay,” Clarke told the law enforcement officers in the room. “[Law enforcement officers] need political support that they do not always get right now.”

He said police officers continue to be ambushed and gunned down, not just in major cities but also in suburban areas. He said 2021 was the deadliest year on record for officers being killed on duty.

Clarke said that all 50 states need the death penalty.

“Make it a capital federal offense for killing a police officer with an execution carried out on conviction, not 13 to 15 years later,” Clarke said. “Why do they get to live an extra 15 years? The person they killed did not get those 13 to 15 years.

“It is believed that the upward trend that we have seen in 2020 and 2021 [in violent crime] will continue,” Clarke said and then he recited a number of crime statistics from across the country. “These figures are staggering.”

A number of candidates and dignitaries were on hand including gubernatorial candidates: Lindy Blanchard, Dean Odle, and Lew Burdette; Supreme Court candidates Greg Cook and Debra Jones, PSC candidates Jeremy Oden and Brent Woodall, Attorney General candidate Harry Still as well as state house, state senate, and Baldwin County commission members and candidates.

Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack and other members of law enforcement were honored for their service.

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