SC sheriff refuses to lower flag in honor of Nelson Mandela

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PICKENS COUNTY, N.C. — A South Carolina sheriff is refusing to lower the American flag in tribute to Nelson Mandela, saying the honor should be reserved for American citizens.

President Obama ordered flags lowered to half-staff for the international icon until sunset Monday.

But Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark says not in his department.

“It’s just my simple opinion that the flag should only be lowered to half-staff for Americans who sacrificed for their country,” Clark told CNN affiliate WHNS.

It should be lowered at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, he said, but not at home.

The flag in his department was lowered over the weekend to honor a fallen law enforcement officer and for Pearl Harbor Day. But it will go right up Sunday morning, he said.

“I have no problem lowering it in South Africa in their country but not for our country. It should be the people who have sacrificed for our country.”

Mandela became the symbol of the fight against racial discrimination in South Africa, and served 27 years behind bars for defying the apartheid government. He died Thursday at age 95.

Though rare, the lowering of flags for foreign citizens is nothing new.

George W. Bush did it for Pope John Paul II eight years ago. So did Bill Clinton, when former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in the 1990s.

In fact, the practice goes as far back as 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson ordered flags lowered for former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

But not all world leaders get the honor.

This year, Obama issued a statement expressing his condolences for the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But he did not order the flag lowered.

American presidents can issue the executive order at their discretion, the Flag Code states. In general, presidents reserve the honor for major national figures, including governors and foreign dignitaries.

The code says it’s only a guide and it does not offer penalties for noncompliance.


  • Bella Lopez

    Boy if you live in SC you are bombarded with mock racism 24/7. But the left has no issues with attacking a non white woman governor.

  • dewey

    Nikki has made the news in the last 10 months??….and the right attacks anything and anyone not an old white man or the wife of one who has no mind of her own

  • FaithC

    I agree with the sheriff. I feel the right should be for US citizens only in this country…and no I don’t care if they are white or black or purple if you are not a US citizen then I can’t see doing it.

    • FaithC

      Why should he resign, because he has an opinion different than yours? Or because he has a good and valid point.

      Nelson Mandela was a good man who fought and brought about change in his country. He is not a citizen here nor has he done anything for this country.

      Will Obama have the flag at half staff when Billy Graham dies, which from what I read will be soon. We will see.

  • Toolman

    I both agree and disagree with the Sheriff. The flag being lowered is reserved for Americas fallen and should never be dipped for those not American citizens. I will stand beside the Sheriff whatever he decides. That said, the so called president of the United States has ordered the flags lowered.

  • Charlie Swan

    The Sheriff gave his reason and I support it. He runs his office the way he decides just like the way Obama runs this country, forget Congress and the pesky Constitution. Since the guilty liberals on here want to make it a race issue here ya go:

    Some additional on the obviously biased, hypocritical and do I dare say prejudiced, POTUS. Not only did he not order flag lowering for Margaret Thatcher’s (conservative party member – go figure) he didn’t attend her wedding !! No biggie right just our number one ally is all. He did some representatives from the State department golly gee whiz,

    But he does plan to attend fellow African Nelson Mandela’s funeral a man who was once branded a terrorist by our country a branding that was accepted by Democrats as well. His ideology changed and he deserves being honored just pointing out the bias.Mandela deserved the Nobel Peace prize when Obama did not. Laughable, actually how a wartime President can be given the Peace Prize. Bwaaahaaa. Nelson the unifier Obama the divider.

  • Justin Ludwig

    He was a member of the South African Communist Party and a co-founder of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress which targeted civilians.
    Mandela fought against racism, which was a good thing, but he did it with another evil: communism.

    • uncgslim85

      Yeah they started that group only after a group of his people was murdered for protesting…the south African government that wanted apartheid considered him a terrorist. ..after a while protesting doesn’t work…they had to resort to violence…he had a good quote about it

  • Chucky1992

    I agree with not flying the flag at half staff. Mandella was not American. I am waiting for Obama to establish a national holiday in his honor though… just wait.

  • Ron Avallone

    Ignorance breeds ignorance. Obviously! Sheriff Clark is correct! If you’re not a vet, leo or american patriot shut up.

  • Taliba

    Who gives a flying F— if Rick Clark from South Carolina gives honor to Mandela. He could have just NOT raised his flag, but instead being the mediawhore who just want attention. Nobody cared what South Carolina (of all places) didi with their flag. And if I were the Mandela family I wouldn’t want any filthy Kudos from Rick Clark.

  • Dick Weed

    I believe the sheriff has a right to his opinion and can freely state it but the norm is for the flag to be lowered when the president calls for it and I think it’s part of his duty as a law officer and elected official to follow this executive request, even if he personally thinks it should be reserved for American citizens.

    • Stephen Melton

      The Flag Code is not a set of laws. There is no law that states that just because someone in DC asks that the flag be lowered, anyone has to.
      The Code is simply a nothing more than an advisory.
      Executive requests, mean nothing outside Federal Gov.

  • butterflylee

    You need to read the flag code – No wonder South Carolina is still as backwards as ever. Never mind racist. Just another racist going off talking about something he obviously has not researched before he opened his mouth. I will not be vacationing in SC ever again. Ignorant.

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