Remember when a Riverwest man, Daniel Black, encountered then-Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. on a flight from Dallas to Milwaukee? Remember when Black asked Clarke if he was indeed Clarke, and, after Clarke replied in the affirmative, Black shook his head at him and walked away? Remember when Clarke called in six deputies to conduct a “field interview” with Black when they landed? Remember when Black then sued Clarke and the deputies? Remember when Clarke then posted a meme of Black on Facebook that said, “Cheer up snowflake…if Sheriff Clarke were to really harass you, you wouldn’t be around to whine about it”? Well, yeah, Clarke will face trial January 22 for that last bit.
A federal judge on Friday dismissed most of a civil rights lawsuit against former Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. over an incident at Milwaukee’s Mitchell airport last year.
But a claim that Clarke retaliated on Facebook for Daniel Black’s exercise of his First Amendment right to shake his head at Clarke survives, and is now set for trial Jan. 22.
Black’s original suit claimed violations of his “Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure, retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights by having him stopped at the airport and the subsequent mockery on Facebook, and his due process rights under the 14th Amendment.” As for most of those violations…
In a 27-page order, U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller on Friday granted summary judgment to Clarke on the Fourth and one of the First Amendment claims, and just dismissed the 14th Amendment claim as “completely without merit,” as well as the claim against the county and the six deputies, all originally identified as John Doe.
Buried in the order is this pertinent paragraph:
But Clarke’s posts could reasonably be understood as a “threat, coercion, or intimidation that punishment…will immediately follow.” Novoselsky, 822 F.3d at 356. They say as much on their face, and in aggressive and combative language. Cf. Fairley, 578 F.3d at 520 (defendant’s comment implying plaintiff officers deserved to be stabbed was sufficiently threatening to state a claim). Of course, another interpretation is that the posts are intentionally hyperbolic (and juvenile) attempts at mockery and self-promotion, and that an ordinary person would not be intimidated by them.
Clarke has yet to respond to his looming trial date, whether via statement, tweet, or meme. No word from Smash Mouth, either.