Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime & Politics for a Better America

Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime & Politics for a Better America

by Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. Jr.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631081835
Publisher: Oasis Audio
Publication date: 03/22/2017
Edition description: Library
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.62(d)

About the Author

David A. Clarke, Jr. was elected to serve as Milwaukee County Sheriff in 2002 and has served in that position for four consecutive terms. He was honored with the 2013 Sheriff of the Year Award from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, and in 2016 he was named Law Enforcement Leader of the Year by the Federal Law Enforcement Officer Association Foundation (FLEOA). He is a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and received an M.A. in Security Studies from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security. A regular and frequent guest on the FOX News network, Sheriff Clarke and his wife, Julie, live in Milwaukee, WI.

Read an Excerpt

Cop Under Fire

Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime & Politics for A Better America

By Sheriff David Clarke Jr., Nancy French

Worthy Publishing Group

Copyright © 2017 David A. Clarke Jr.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-68397-064-4


From Rebellion to Respect for the Badge

As the squad car rolled past our house just outside the projects of Milwaukee one summer afternoon, I clenched my hand into a tight fist. My friends and I had been hanging out in the front yard, and I was in a rebellious mood.

It was 1969. The previous year, it seemed our nation was changing at breakneck speed. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead outside his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis; Robert Kennedy was murdered in Los Angeles; Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon; fictional Star Trek character Enterprise Capt. James Kirk kissed Lt. Nyota Uhura in America's first televised interracial kiss; and riots broke out at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Also, two black American athletes made history at the summer Olympics after winning gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter race. As our national anthem played, Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the podium, shocking the world with heads bowed and black-gloved fists raised high in the air to protest discrimination against black people back home. As they left the podium, the crowd booed, but Smith didn't back down. "We are black, and we are proud of being black," he said. "Black America will understand what we did tonight."

We did.

Watching those Olympic Games about two thousand miles away in Milwaukee, we knew inherently that there was something wrong with America. The raised fist had become the universal symbol of black solidarity. That's why, when the police car got in front of my house at 39th and Kaul Avenue, I thrust my fist into the air and planted my feet into the ground.

Black pride. Black power. You aren't welcome here, my raised fist conveyed to the police officers.

At least that's what I wanted them to understand. The cops apparently didn't get the message. Instead of being intimidated, they suddenly stopped their car. Two officers got out and began walking over to me. The grins on my friends' faces faded. Out of respect, I lowered my arm, walked to the policemen, and looked down at my shoes. But just as the police began to open their mouths to question me, my worst nightmare came true.

The front door of my house creaked behind me and out came my father, David Clarke Sr. He squinted in the afternoon sun as he assessed the situation, and my heart nearly stopped beating.

My Dad, the Ranger

My father joined the US Army when he was sixteen, just three years older than I was when I raised my fist in defiance. He was assigned to a tank battalion in Fort Knox, Kentucky, but he really wanted to be a paratrooper. Ranger training hadn't even been offered to black soldiers before then, but he was able to go to Fort Benning, Georgia, to train with the Second Ranger Infantry Company — the army's first, last, and only all-black Rangers. Since he was the only person in the Rangers to come from a tank battalion, they called him "Tank."

When war broke out in Korea, UN forces pushed the North Korean Army as far north as the Yalu River. But when Chinese troops poured over the border to help the North Koreans, America realized the South Koreans might face defeat if they didn't fully utilize the skills of these black Rangers. Could black Rangers be elite? There were many differing opinions on that, but the army needed them. Consequently, members of the Second Ranger Infantry Company had two very divided lives.

Stateside, they were black soldiers living under the inequity of segregation. In combat, however, they were well-respected members of a top-notch fighting force. Though the army was the last military branch to comply with Harry S. Truman's 1948 executive order committing the government to integrating the armed services, the inefficiencies of separate hospitals or aid stations were unaffordable; combat troops of all ethnicities were mixed together. On March 23, 1951, the Second Ranger Infantry Company loaded onto a plane headed to Munsan-ni for a jump. One black Ranger, as he prepared to make history, observed, "It took the Chinese to integrate the American Army."

Buffalo Soldiers. That's what they called them. Though there are a few stories floating around about the origin of the nickname, apparently the Cheyenne saw black soldiers fighting in the plains back in 1870 and compared their curly hair and color to those of buffalos. In World War I, black soldiers adopted the nickname and wore a shoulder patch of a solitary black buffalo to indicate their division. In 1942, they even somehow got a live buffalo as a mascot. By the time my dad was in the army, the term was a sign of respect. Embracing the name helped the soldiers declare, "We are Rangers and we carry the tradition of earlier Buffalo soldiers. We are strong, we are resilient, and we are united to destroy the enemy."

But no matter how determined they were, they had no idea what they were getting into. The war was hard on the Second Ranger Infantry Company even before they got into battle. Frostbite was rampant since temperatures in Korea dipped below zero and bitter winds ripped through the combat clothing left over from World War II.

One January morning, they headed out to meet the enemy. My dad was a First Platoon BAR runner. BAR stood for Browning Automatic Rifle. He carried his weapon and ammo for the 60mm mortar over an old, abandoned railroad track. Since they found it too difficult to reload in the mountainous terrain, the Rangers doubled the amount of ammunition they carried.

That evening, they ate C rations and slept on the frozen ground. The next morning, they awakened stiff and cold and began making their way down the treacherous mountain. During their journey, they received enemy fire. One American soldier was shot while eating a can of beans. Within seconds another soldier was killed with several others wounded. My dad, his friend Corporal Lawrence "Poochie" Williams, and the others took cover behind a boulder, but they didn't have a good line of sight to the enemy. "Put some fire on those hills," my dad heard, an order he obeyed. Turns out, the boulder wasn't as protective as they'd hoped, especially when they realized that some fire was coming from behind.

"Sergeant Freeman, Poochie got hit in his head!" my dad heard just as his friend's corpse nearly fell on him. Poochie had hated wearing his steel helmet and wasn't wearing one on that fateful day — it's not clear it would've saved his life. He got hit in the head, and the bullet came out of his eye. A bullet ripped open another Ranger's chin, and another was hit twice and fatally in the neck. Private First Class Robert St. Thomas was near my father when a bullet went through his foot.

"Is that a bullet hole?" he asked as he peeled back his shoe pack. It was so cold he could barely feel the wound.

"You've been hit," my dad confirmed.

By that time, my dad had used all of his ammo but one magazine, and soldiers were getting shot all around him. "Everybody out!" he heard. As they retreated under a shower of enemy fire, many more Americans were killed or wounded. This included St. Thomas. The last time my dad saw him alive was when he was inspecting his bullet-pierced, frozen foot.

"Come on out," a soldier named Dude Walker with an M1 said. "I got you covered."

Because of his own bravery and the bravery of others — but most important by the hand of God — my dad survived that skirmish. But no matter how brave they were, it wasn't enough for some people.

The Second Ranger Infantry Company was attached to the X Corps, led by General Edward M. Almond. He was one of those people in the military who still didn't support racial integration of the troops. "No white man wants to be accused of leaving the battle line. The Negro doesn't care," he said. "People think being from the South we don't like Negroes. Not at all. But we understand his capabilities. And we don't want to sit at the table with them." He frequently discussed black soldiers' incompetence, cowardly nature, and ignorance.

No matter what the general said, the Second Ranger Infantry Company served with valor and courage. They received the Combat Infantry Streamer awarded to units that received more than 65 percent of casualties in a particular engagement.

General Douglas MacArthur recognized the importance and historical significance of Dad's company. "I have one criticism of negro troops who fought under my command in the Korean War," he said. "They didn't send me enough of them."

My dad returned to Milwaukee as a sergeant with a chest full of medals. There, he married Geraldine and worked for the post office. Together, they had five kids. I was the second-born but oldest son, and we had a peaceful life. When I was younger, we lived in a housing project on the north side called Berryland, but after I turned twelve, we moved to a compact house with white aluminum siding and wide awnings a few blocks away. My parents lived frugally, living simply so they could send all of their kids to Catholic school. We never had new cars or went on vacations. Well, to be clear, our idea of a vacation was piling in the car and visiting my grandmother in Beloit.

Every morning, we'd get bundled up and walk about five blocks to St. Albert School, a large off-white brick building surrounded by an asphalt playground and a chain-link fence. The nuns at school held complete sway over our behavior, their raised rulers coming down hard on us when we strayed from the straight and narrow path. We knew not to cross them in the classroom, but our fear extended beyond the schoolhouse doors. Blocks away, we felt the lingering effects of their discipline. As soon as we got about three blocks from school, we knew to cross the road and walk double file down the sidewalk until we reached the intersection where the crossing guard would escort us across the street to school. Why double file? That configuration, the nuns told us, allowed two kids to be on the sidewalk without blocking the way for any adult pedestrians who might be coming our way. We never even dreamed of doing something as radical as walking in a group down the sidewalk as if we owned it, making anyone who walked toward us go around us ... even outside their domain. There at St. Albert, I developed my love of learning and books, but I also loved sports.

My hero was my dad's brother Frank. Named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he was a great athlete who was drafted out of the University of Colorado in the fifth round of the 1956 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. He played one season in Ohio before the Cowboys picked him up in the expansion draft. For Dallas, he became the first receiver with more than one thousand receiving yards. He's often described as the first black athlete who was a star, even though his host city was racially divided at the time. He held the Cowboys season touchdown reception record until a few years ago when Terrell Owens broke it. Terrell signed a football and sent it to my uncle when that happened. Frequently, people ask me where I got my affinity for my trademark cowboy hat and cowboy boots. It goes back to my love of my uncle and his success for Dallas.

My dad's other brother, Edwin Clarke, wrote for The Milwaukee Journal and hosted black public affairs programs on local television. My father had, I suppose, a less prominent job. Every Sunday, he'd get up and meticulously iron his postman's uniform before the start of the week. The man could press a seam. My mother was a stay-at-home mom until we were school age. Then she worked as a secretary for Milwaukee Public Schools. Even though they were working parents, they kept a strict rein on us kids.

My friends would go to a nearby train trestle, grocery store, or corner drugstore after school, but my dad allowed me to go only to our neighborhood park, which was just an empty field a few blocks from home. My father said, "No farther," so the park was the unofficial boundary line of my life. I didn't know how big the city was because I rarely left the neighborhood. My siblings and I weren't out running the streets. My father didn't go for that, nor did he go for hanging out. Everything that I did took place within a few steps of my home. When the streetlights went on at dusk, I'd better be at home. If not, my dad would drive through the streets looking for me. Once I got home, he hid my shoes to ensure I was not tempted to sneak out.

"You have no business standing around doing nothing," he always told me. "You'll be at our house."

"How can I see my friends?"

"If your friends want to see you so bad, they can come over here." He didn't add "where I can keep an eye on you," but he didn't have to. He had the reputation of being the strictest father on the block. He wouldn't tolerate disrespect and definitely didn't suffer fools. I bristled under his watchful eye, but I also knew he had my back.

An Unforgettable Moment

A few months before I raised my fist to the cops, I had been on our neighborhood playground, which was nothing more than an asphalt basketball court (with bases painted on it for baseball too) and a swing set. I was swinging with my buddies, all who were white, when some older kids came up. Back then, teenagers who were sixteen to eighteen were either "hood" or "college" (pronounced coleej). These guys were hoods.

"Get off that swing, n —," one of them said to me.

Even though I lived in a predominantly white neighborhood, it was the first time someone had called me that word publicly. I got off the swing and shuffled home, embarrassed and hurt not so much because of the name but because I'd been called it in front of my friends. I'd never seen myself as different, but there it was — the color of my skin pointed out in the most embarrassing fashion.

"What's wrong?" my mom asked when I walked in the house. I was bawling.

"We were on the swings," I cried, "and they kicked us off and one called me n —."

"David, you know what I always say. Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words can never hurt you."

I tried to find comfort in her singsongy advice, but it was cold comfort. That's when my dad came in the room.

"What's going on?" As soon as my mother explained the situation, he started to head out the door.

"Dave, don't," she said. "Stay."

But my dad pointed at me and said, "Come with me."

"Those guys?" my dad asked when we walked into the park. The hoods were still on the swings, slowly going back and forth as they talked. My dad went straight to them and with a raised voice said, "Get off those swings!"

They obeyed more quickly than I had complied to their demand a few minutes earlier.

"Which one of you called my son a n —?" he asked.

"It wasn't me, it wasn't me," they all said. They knew my dad was a no-nonsense man, and they were rightfully afraid of him. He didn't lay a hand on them, but he put the fear of God in them.

My dad stuck up for me, and I knew I would never forget this moment. But he also was adamant that I was not a victim. He never encouraged the racial hypersensitivity seen too frequently today. Though he never talked to me about it outright, I knew he didn't like identity politics and wouldn't have his son participate in such nonsense.

When I raised my fists to the police, as soon as my father appeared in the door, my friends' curiosity over the impending interaction with the police disappeared. They grabbed their bikes and left — no words spoken. Even they respected my father.

"What's going on here?" my dad asked, his eyes squinting as he tried to adjust to the afternoon autumn sun. "Is there a problem, officer?"

"Your son called us over," one said. "We were driving by, and he raised his hand. We figured he needed us."

The other added, "Actually, he raised his fist."

I was a rule follower, so a raised fist was not typical behavior. On that day, this usually shy and reserved kid wanted to impress my friends; I wanted the cops to know I didn't like them; I wanted to make a statement. Now that I'm older and fully appreciate all that my dad went through in the war — the segregation, the insults, the slander, the deaths around him — without complaining, I bet he couldn't imagine that his kid had a reason in the world to be angry at those cops.

My dad placed his hand on my shoulder and said — without changing his calm tone of voice — "I'll take care of it."

The officers nodded, got back in their car, and drove away. I would've rather been handcuffed and dragged down to the station than be left there with my dad. When we got inside the house, he turned to me and asked, "What do you think you're doing?"

I didn't answer. I knew not to make excuses.

"You never mess with the police," he said. "Never."

There was something in the tone of his voice and his steady gaze. The police knew my dad would handle my attitude. My dad knew he could handle it. And I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would never do that again.

And I didn't.


Excerpted from Cop Under Fire by Sheriff David Clarke Jr., Nancy French. Copyright © 2017 David A. Clarke Jr.. Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword Sean Hannity xi

1 From Rebellion to Respect for the Badge 1

2 Political Shakedown: Give Me Your $29 or Else 13

3 I'm Color-Blind When It Comes to Crime and Punishment 25

4 Guess What? Prison Is Supposed to Be Unpleasant 41

5 American Education Embraces and Enforces Poverty 61

6 How Lies Turned Isolated Deaths into National Scandals 71

7 Black Lives Matter Less to BLM than Lies & Leftist Politics 83

8 A Hate Group's Battle Cry: #BlackLivesMatter 93

9 The Second Amendment Isn't just for White People 109

10 Changing the Culture Is a Matter of Faith, Not Politics 125

11 God Is Not the Enemy, but He's Being Attacked 141

12 Homeland Security Equals Personal Security 157

13 The TSA Is Whistling Past the Graveyard 181

14 The Left's Dreaded Enemy: Black Conservatives 193

15 Convention of States: The Next American Revolution 209

16 War Has Been Declared on the American Police Officer 225

Acknowledgments 243

Notes 245

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