A South Carolina sheriff says he will not fly the flag at half-staff this weekend for Nelson Mandela, despite President Barack Obama’s request.
Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark says lowering flags to half-staff should be an honor reserved for American citizens.
"The flag at half-staff is for Americans' ultimate sacrifice for our country," Clark said. "We should never stray away from that."
Friday the Sheriff’s office lowered the flag to half-staff to honor an area law enforcement officer who died, but raised the flag again overnight.
Clark posted on his Facebook page that the flag should be lowered at the U.S. embassy in South Africa, not on American soil.
"Nelson Mandela did great things for his country and was a brave man but he was not an AMERICAN!!!” Clark wrote.
Hundreds of commenters supported Clark's decision.
The head of the local chapter of the NAACP, Sheila Crawford did not.
"I expect for him to follow proper protocol and fly the flag at half-staff because that’s the respect I would like to give Nelson Mandela as a citizen of Pickens County," Crawford said.
Clark says flying the flag-half staff for non-Americans “weakens what it means to that person who has died for the United States of America.”
“I’ve always liked (Mandela) and been very proud of what he’s done,” he said, “but it’s reserved for Americans, in my opinion.”
He said he received a notification Friday that read: “As a mark of respect for the memory of Nelson Mandela, the President orders that the flag of the United States be flown at half-staff effective immediately until sunset, December 9, 2013."
There is no penalty for failing to comply with an executive order from the president.