Responding to suggestions that the polls in the upcoming US presidential election might be rigged, flamboyant Sheriff David A Clarke, above, of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, yesterday tweeted:
It’s incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time.
Alongside his message was the photo below.
Trump had earlier said at a rally in New Hampshire on Saturday:
We’re going to beat the rigged system; we’re going to beat the rigged election.
Trump, according to this report, has made similar allegations before, encouraging his supporters to watch the polls on election day to “make sure it’s on the up and up”.
His comments seemed specifically aimed at sending his (overwhelmingly white) supporters to “watch” polls in inner-city areas, which have a higher population of black and Hispanic Americans. Trump is actively recruiting poll watchers at rallies and on social media.
Voting rights advocates have raised alarms that the kind of monitoring Trump is asking for is likely to make it more difficult for people of colour and other disenfranchised populations to vote – which could actually have consequences for the democratic process.
As Sheriff Clarke’s tweet shows, the rigged election rhetoric could also have real consequences should Trump lose the election.
At a recent rally in Cincinnati, Trump supporters told a reporter for the Boston Globe that they intended to head to local polling stations and watch for illegal immigrants, and that they suspected Hillary Clinton’s campaign was stuffing ballot boxes. They also floated ideas of armed rebellion and assassination.
Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor said:
If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it. We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take… I would do whatever I can for my country.
Clarke is no stranger to controversy. Back in 2006 he invited members of an evangelical Christian organisation, the Fellowship of Christian Centurions, to speak at several mandatory employee meetings, at which the group members proselytised. Several deputies complained about the groups’ proselytising, but Clarke refused to stop the presentations.
The sheriff deputies’ union and two individual sheriff’s deputies (a Catholic and a Muslim) successfully sued Clarke in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Clarke appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which upheld the lower court’s ruling in 2009. The sheriff did not seek review in the US Supreme Court.