During a heated House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) responded sharply to a black conservative sheriff who blamed an African-American “underclass subculture” for police violence.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who has become a darling of the right, called police bashing “low-hanging fruit,” Raw Story reports.
He said it’s easy to exploit “rare” police killings of black men for political advantage. What’s needed, Clarke stated, is a discussion about a black subculture that disrespects authority and preys on its own community.
Jeffries acknowledged that black-on-black crime is a problem, but also underscored that 83 percent of white people are killed by other whites.
“Is white-on-white violence also a problem that we should have a robust discussion about?” Jeffries asked Clarke, who appears frequently on Fox News.
He also fired back when the sheriff noted a general lack of cooperation from communities when law enforcement investigates black-on-black crimes. The lawmaker pointed out that Clarke avoided discussing the “blue wall of silence,” which obstructs investigations into police wrongdoing.
Politico described the hearing on policing reform as contentious. It uncovered the huge divide between those who see a need for reform and those who say the problem is a lack of respect for police officers. Developing new police standards is clearly a partisan issue.
At the hearing, the sheriff spoke about “false narratives”—referencing Black Lives Matter—in the ongoing nationwide protest against police brutality.
Jeffries asked him if the protest over the police use of a banned choke hold in the killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., was a false narrative.
Clarke responded that Garner died of a heart attack—not from being choked to death.
The congressman shot back. He said the medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide by asphyxiation. “In the ghetto, that’s called being choked to death,” Jeffries said.
The May 19 hearing was the first of several planned congressional hearings on the rising tensions between the black community and law enforcement. It came on the heels of President Barack Obama’s release of a new law-enforcement framework.