Conservative activist and all-around muckraker James O’Keefe’s latest hidden-camera video draws inspiration from Milwaukee County’s controversial sheriff, amid the national battle over guns.
Last Wednesday, O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released, “On Your Own” (with accompanying Twitter hash tag #OnYourOwn through his usual mass social network distribution), an undercover video that hammers home O’Keefe’s thesis: Citizens under threat are left vulnerable until police arrive. And, as several New York area officers on the video attest, response times could be anything but rapid.
Police offer plenty of advice to the video’s inquisitor, an unidentified man who claims to be 63. They suggest he should lock himself into a bedroom, scream, or get a Rottweiler, to protect himself in the absence of law enforcement.
Some officers suggest the man should consider applying for a handgun permit, a process than can take as long as eight months in New York City.
“So basically … I’m on my own?” the man repeatedly asks police. The answer, on several occasions, is “yes.”
That’s the same point Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke was trying to make in a public service announcement earlier this year, a message that became a heated conversation on talk shows nationwide and made Clarke a conservative darling. In the PSA, Clarke advises Milwaukee County residents to think about protecting themselves because, Clarke claims, budget cutbacks have significantly cut into his department’s response times.
“Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?” Clarke says in the radio spot.
O’Keefe’s “On Your Own” video pulls the quote from Clarke and includes a clip from CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, in which the host, a gun-control zealot in the eyes of many conservatives, takes aim at the sheriff during a segment with Clarke and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a vocal advocate of expanded gun-control laws.
“To have a sheriff basically imply it’s not going to help you to call 911 is, I think, irresponsible,” Barrett says on Morgan’s show. The clip also is included on O’Keefe’s video.
Clarke’s public information officer did not return calls from Wisconsin Reporter requesting comment from the sheriff.
Milwaukee, in many ways, has been ground zero in the nation’s gun debate battle, which has pitted the Obama administration and passionate proponents of tougher gun control against ardent backers of Second Amendment rights.
Mass murders last year at a Sikh temple and at a salon and spa, each occurring in suburban Milwaukee, brought the issue of gun violence into the national spotlight.
Last week, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, sparred with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in Capitol Hill testimony. Flynn supports a proposed assault-weapons ban.
Clarke has sent a letter to Graham, apologizing on behalf of his constituents for what the sheriff described as Flynn’s “embarrassing” and “rude” testimony, accusing the chief of being hostile to gun rights, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The two men have had a strained relationship for some time.
O’Keefe, who earned national acclaim among conservatives for his 2009 video expose on community organizer ACORN, has faced his share of criticism, particularly from liberals and members of the mainstream media, for selectively editing his hidden camera investigations.
And it appears Project Veritas’ “On Your Own” video is no exception.
But O’Keefe’s point, that longer police response times could put citizens in peril, may be driven home in places like Milwaukee.
A Milwaukee Journal investigation in 2011 found the Milwaukee Police Department’s response times averaged 17 minutes and 55 seconds for armed robbery calls.
A New York-area officer on O’Keefe’s video claimed it could take police as much as 30 minutes to respond to a call.
Clarke claims response times in the county have gotten longer in recent years.
So the question, according to O’Keefe, is, are citizens really on their own? If so, how do they protect themselves? While proponents of new gun-control laws say assault-weapons bans and universal background checks won’t prevent law-abiding citizens from owning a handgun or a shotgun, O’Keefe’s video suggests more laws would further hinder a citizen’s right to bear arms – at least until police arrive.