PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. – Sheriff Rick Clark in Pickens County, South Carolina is refusing to lower the American flag to half-staff in honor & memory of Nelson Mandela as President Obama has ordered all flags to be lowered throughout the land. The American flag that flies over the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office will be raised to full-staff tonight despite the order. On Thursday, Obama ordered that flags be flown at half-staff on public grounds until sunset Monday.
The Sheriff has stated that the honor of lowering flags to half-staff should be reserved for Americans. “The flag at half-staff is for Americans’ ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Clark said. “We should never stray away from that.”
The honor of having the American Flag lowered for a non-American is not unheard of though. In 2005, President George W. Bush ordered flags lowered to half-staff in honor of Pope John Paul II.
Clark did acknowledge on Facebook that Nelson Mandela “did great things for his country and was a brave man” after posting that he would not lower the American flag to half-staff.
Things to consider when thinking about Sheriff Clark’s defiance:
The order of flags to the flown at half-staff comes directly from the President of the United States.
Sheriff Clark is also an elected official like that of President Obama.
Sheriff Clark would feel very disrespected if someone in his command refused an order. Would he not discipline that person for a direct order? Of course he would because he has avenues of discipline which include a formal write up to go in an officers personnel file all the way up to letting that person go for insubordination.
Clark would also not like or appreciate if a civilian were to ignore a direct command from him or one of his officers. Would he or one of his officers not take measures for that civilian to comply? Of course they would. Comply if do not want to get a ticket all the way to being arrested and jailed.
The federal flag code “does not prescribe any penalties for non-compliance nor does it include enforcement provisions” and “functions simply as a guide to be voluntarily followed by civilians and civilian groups,” according to a U.S. congressional memo.
Sheriff Rick Clark appears to be imposing his own personal feelings and beliefs on county or public lands which he is responsible for as an elected official.
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