Controversy arises after UNH pulls guest speaker - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Controversy arises after UNH pulls guest speaker

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Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke (WFSB) Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke (WFSB)
NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

A Connecticut college is coming under fire after pulling the plug on a campus talk.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is a Donald Trump supporter, and an outspoken opponent of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

He was supposed to speak at a forensic conference later this month at the University of New Haven, but now that’s not happening.

On his blog, the sheriff said the university didn’t want him on campus because of his views, and that the school has changed its story a couple of times.

In part on his blog, Clarke said "What did I say that was so controversial? I’m not sure what specific remarks drove them to uninvite me, but anyone who listens to me for five seconds knows I prefer to drop the “v” and call them #BlackLIESMatter. So, yeah — I’m going to keep speaking out against #BlackLIESMatter — but apparently that means I’m not going to be speaking about forensics at the University of New Haven anytime soon."

The school counters that Clarke knew it asked him to postpone the talks months ago.

"When I heard Sheriff Clarke wasn't coming, I was upset because I heard it was for political reasons, school after that sent out some mixed messages,” said University of New Haven senior Brian Sharnick, who created an online petition and it soon went viral.

The school responded, first saying circumstances would not permit Sheriff Clarke to attend. Then, another stated an invitation was explored but never officially extended.

Clarke asked if the invitation wasn’t pulled, why was the school looking into travel arrangements and accommodations.

Finally, a third Facebook post, in which a faculty member apologized saying he unintentionally misrepresented Clarke’s travel requests, but that the school determined his appearance could be politically polarizing in light of the upcoming election.

"There were certainly some missteps taken by people on this campus with frankly the best of intentions,” said University of New Haven President Steven Kaplan, who added that instead of a blog post, he would have liked to hear from Clarke himself. "It’s very important to note, Sheriff Clarke received the request to postpone his talk on Aug. 3 and it took him more than two months before making it an issue. I'd like to know why? Is it because he has a book coming out now?"

Sharnick said he and other student leaders met with school administrators and the university also hosted a campus meeting on Monday. He said while disappointed, he’s glad the school offered an apology and has backed his right to petition.

"They understand the first amendment is an important issue, they've been fully supportive, appreciate students taking charge,” Sharnick said.

When asked whether or not the offer for Clarke to speak on campus still stands, Kaplan said after receiving a number of what he calls “threatening emails,” he said he’d have to think long and hard about if it’s best for the campus.

Sharnick said he doesn’t know if Clarke would come now anyway.

Eyewitness News reached out to Clarke’s office on Monday, however they have not responded.

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