COLUMBIA — The S.C. NAACP says it is investigating traffic stops conducted by the Pickens County Sheriff's office after Sheriff Rick Clark refused to lower the department's American flag to honor the passing of former South African president Nelson Mandela.
"What happens to young people, particularly African-American males, when they are stopped in Pickens County," S.C. NAACP president Lonnie Randolph asked during a news conference on Thursday to announce plans for the 2014 King Day at the Dome Rally. "A fish wouldn't get in trouble if he kept his mouth shut. He opened his mouth, and we are going to look into it."
Clark made national headilnes when he posted on his Facebook page that he would not lower the American Flag at the Pickens County Sheriff's Department because Mandela was not an American citizen.
Clark said he would pull the statistics Thursday to answer Randolph's questions.
"I think we're going to have some positive numbers," he said.
Clark added he has done some "great things" in minority recruitment.
The sheriff wrote on Facebook after Mandela's death:
I usually dont post political items, but today is different. I received this notification today, 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, Clark wrote. Nelson Mandela did great things for his country and was a brave man but he was not an AMERICAN!!! The flag should be lowered at our Embassy in S. Africa, but not here.
"Nelson Mandela did great things for his country and he was a brave man but he was not an AMERICAN!!!! The flag should be lowered at our embassy in S. Africa, but not here. Our flag is at half staff today for a deputy in the low country who died going to help his fellow Deputy. He deserves the honor. I have ordered the flag here at my office back up after tomorrow's mourning of Pearl Harbor Day!"