Don Lemon attacked Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke in a Facebook post on Monday over their sparring over Black Lives Matter and related issues on Sunday's CNN Tonight. Lemon claimed that he "woke up to the most vile posts regarding this interview," and lamented how Clarke supposedly was "displaying...exactly what so many fear about law enforcement." He added that Clarke's conduct was "probably not the best representation right now of...[those] who so bravely wear a police badge." At one point, Lemon went to a break early after the sheriff resisted his plea to "keep the volume down." [video below]
Clarke confronted the journalist from the very beginning of the interview. He wondered if there were "any protests over the deaths of these cops today in Baton Rouge?...Any riots or protests over the police officers in Dallas?" When Lemon asked the Wisconsin sheriff to specify what his message was in the wake of the murders of police in Louisiana, Clarke replied, "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."
The CNN anchor followed by wondering, "With all do respect, do you know that this was because of that — as a law enforcement officer?" The sheriff underlined that "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." He continued by pointing out that "when the tragedies happened in Louisiana and Minnesota, you know that 21 black people were murdered across the United States?" The interview quickly fell apart when Lemon made his "keep the volume down" statement:
DON LEMON: Sheriff, please. Let's just keep — let's just keep the volume down here. So I understand — and I — listen, I don't — I don't disagree—
SHERIFF DAVID CLARKE, MILWAUKEE COUNTY, WISCONSIN: I'm looking at three dead cops this week, and I am looking at five last week. You're trying to tell me to keep it down?
LEMON: Sheriff, if we just please — if we just please — if you will just please, we can keep it civil. So — because the message to people at home, I'm sure you want, is one of civility—
CLARKE: I wish — Don, I wish you had that message of civility—
LEMON: I would like to have — I would like to have a conversation with you—
CLARKE: Toward this hateful ideology — these purveyors of hate—
LEMON: You don't know what my message is. What I want to speak to you is—
CLARKE: That's what they do. These people bile and virtue in the name of hate—
LEMON: Well, if you let me finish — are you going to let me get a word in? We'll be right back. We're going to go to break, and we'll be right back. Are you going to let me talk?
During the second segment, Lemon repeatedly contended that all he wanted to do was have a "conversation" with his guest. He disclosed, "I don't disagree with you about that there's a narrative across the country that could be harming police officers. But we don't know right now...if that was the actual cause of it" in Baton Rouge. Clarke returned to his point about the "anti-police rhetoric" from Black Lives Matter, which turned to a debate over a recent study about how police treat whites versus blacks [video below]:
CLARKE: First of all, this whole anti-police rhetoric is based on a lie. There is no data — and you know this — there is no data; there is no research that proves any of that nonsense — none. Even—
LEMON: You have to be more specific about what data and what nonsense you're talking about.
CLARKE: That law enforcement officers treat black males different than white males in policing in these urban centers—
LEMON: There is data that supports that—
CLARKE: There is not data—
LEMON: The President — the President spoke about it. Cedric Alexander, who's a law enforcement officer—
CLARKE: The President has been lying about it. He said it again the other day, when he said that black males are two times more likely to be shot by a law enforcement officer than a white male. Don, that is a lie.
LEMON: That is not a lie. Yes — the research—
CLARKE: It is a lie. Show me; show me—
LEMON: The research that we have — that we have from the Washington Post — that associated study—
CLARKE: The Washington Post debunked that nonsense. He also said this time—
LEMON: There's also — there's also research — Sheriff, there's also research....from a Harvard professor that also showed that black people are treated more aggressively by police officers than other people—
CLARKE: No, you are wrong in your interpretation of that Harvard study — because I read the study. That's not what he said. He said he was surprised to find that—
LEMON: He was surprised to find that in shootings — of the most severe in shootings, that he found no evidence that there was a difference. Also, it should be noted, that that study was a very small sampling of police departments across the country. Many people did not find it credible. But it is also interesting that in that research, he found that blacks were treated differently when it came to aggressive policing; but for the most egregious shootings, he found no difference. That's what that study showed.
CLARKE: Well, based on what? Just generally? Are we talking about high crime areas?
LEMON: We're talking about ten police departments across the country—
CLARKE: Are we talking about police officers being under attack — because let's go back to where this whole thing started — in Ferguson, Missouri. The lie was, hands up, don't shoot—
LEMON: Sheriff; sheriff— with all due respect, you're lumping a whole bunch of things into one—
LEMON: If you could do one specific thing and stick to it—
CLARKE: That's where this whole phony movement started. It started out as hands up, don't shoot—
LEMON: You're talking about Black Lives Matter?
LEMON: Okay...you would need to speak to someone who is a member of Black Lives Matter about whether they are — have perpetrated a fraud on the American people. That's up to Black Lives Matter. That's not me. I'm neither — neither a member of Black Lives Matter — I'm neither a supporter or someone who doesn't support them. I simply report on Black Lives Matter.
The sheriff also contended that "there's only one group in America — one time, that truly cares about the lives of black people in these urban ghettos — and it's the American police officer, who goes out there on a daily basis; puts their life on the line — to protect who? Black people."
Near the end of the second segment, Sheriff Clarke asked about the circumstances of the Michael Brown case from Ferguson, Missouri that served as a catalyst for much of the Black Lives Matter protests:
CLARKE: Was the situation between Mike Brown and Darren Wilson — was that police brutality?
LEMON: But we're not talking about Michael Brown and Darren Wilson—
CLARKE: Yes or no? I am.
LEMON: No. If you're asking me — if you're asking me what the Justice Department showed — the Justice Department showed that — it exonerated Officer Darren Wilson; and that the hands up, don't shoot narrative was a false narrative. That has been reported by CNN and by others.
Before Lemon ended the interview, Clarke returned to his original anti-Black Lives Matter talking point:
CLARKE: When you take in rates of involvement in violent crime — and crime in general, but violent crime, you're going to see that black males are over-represented—
LEMON: (laughs) Yeah; yeah—
CLARKE: Over-represented, in terms of being involved in violent crime. That's going to mean more arrests—
CLARKE: That's going to mean more people going to prison. This stuff has already been debunked.
LEMON: Sheriff, that's a different conversation. Many people don't—
CLARKE: Every time — every time you don't have a response to something I say, you say it's a different conversation—
LEMON: It's not that — it's not that I don't have response to you. It's that — we're having two different conversations. I'm taking about — I'm asking the questions here; you're answering the questions by asking questions about some other subject that we're not discussing. That is not a conversation—
CLARKE: We're talking about this hateful ideology called Black Lives Matter. (Lemon laughs) You said you're not a member? You can't be a member. It's not a organization. There's no structure. It is an ideology; and it is a hateful ideology—
LEMON: That's what — that's what you're talking about. Listen, I understand — and I understand that you're very — I understand this is a very sensitive time for you—
CLARKE: These individuals; these individuals—
LEMON: And Sheriff, we appreciate you coming on. Thank you—
CLARKE: They preach vile and vitriol in the name of virtue—
LEMON: Thank you, Sheriff. We appreciate it. We understand it's a very tough time for you.