- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Twitter took action against David A .Clarke, the former sheriff of Milwaukee County, after he encouraged Americans to defy restrictions being imposed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Several tweets about the coronavirus outbreak posted by Mr. Clarke’s widely-followed Twitter account over the weekend were no longer available Monday after the company intervened.

Among the posts that disappeared from the platform were tweets in which Mr. Clarke criticized attempts to minimize the outbreak by closing down bars and restaurants to customers.

“It is now evident that this is an orchestrated attempt to destroy CAPITALISM,” Mr. Clarke wrote Sunday in a tweet no longer available on Twitter. “First sports, then schools and finally commercial businesses. Time to RISE UP and push back. Bars and restaurants should defy the order. Let people decide if they want to go out.”

In another tweet since removed from Twitter, Mr. Clarke said he was tired of being told “to err on the side of caution” and referred to COVID-19, the infectious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as the “DAMN FLU.”

“TAKE…TO …THE…STREETS,” Mr. Clarke wrote in another tweet no longer available on Twitter. “I will no longer sit back and watch the destruction of this great republic over the FLU.”

Twitter ultimately took action against the tweets in accordance with the company’s policy against encouraging self-harm, the company confirmed to The Washington Times on Tuesday.

Mr. Clarke still maintains his account on Twitter, although his biography on the platform currently reads that he is leaving the service due to “conservative speech control.”

The White House and U.S. Centers for Disease Control have advised that people refrain from gathering in groups in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and several cities across the country have accordingly ordered establishments such as bars and restaurants to close their doors to customers.

More than 4,226 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed so far in the U.S., including 75 in which the infected person died after contracting the disease, according to the CDC.

Mr. Clarke, 63, served as the sheriff of Wisconsin’s most populous county from 2002 to 2017. He was a vocal supporter of President Trump’s election campaign in 2016, and he announced the following year that he would be assuming a senior role within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He later withdrew himself from consideration, however.

Nearly one million other Twitter accounts currently subscribe to Mr. Clarke’s tweets.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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