Sheriff Clarke: Progressive policies have hit black community like 'nuclear blast'

A top Wisconsin law enforcement official blames “progressive policies” for the behavior of violent protesters in Milwaukee who took to the streets after Saturday’s police shooting of an armed black man.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said on Fox News' “America's Newsroom” Monday that “the growth of the welfare state” encourages the destructive behavior seen on Saturday and Sunday nights. Officials said 11 police officers were injured, two civilians were shot, six businesses were burned and several patrol cars were damaged as angry residents gathered to demonstrate two nights in a row in the wake of Sylville K. Smith’s death.

“These progressive policies have hit the black community like a nuclear blast, and until we reverse this government dependency, that’s what creates all of this – and encourages it, by the way,” Clarke said.

Clarke said “an intact family” and the ability to “self-criticize” could help curb such destructive behavior. But he said those values are being trampled by “progressive ideology.”

He added, “This dangerous ideology that has been very destructive on the black community, until we push back…this thing’s only going to get worse.”

At a news conference Monday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said outsiders were trying to damage a great neighborhood where he lived for 11 years. Barrett said he was concerned about the economic damage being done to the Sherman Park neighborhood.

Police Chief Edward Flynn said the shooting of Smith on Saturday was a flashpoint for underlying tensions. The chief said many people outside the neighborhood were using that for their own agendas.

Flynn said three Milwaukee officers and four Milwaukee County sheriff's deputies were struck by glass or rocks in Sunday night's unrest.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.