SAN RAFAEL (KPIX 5) — Communities across the country have lowered their flags to half staff to honor the victims of the mass shootings, but one Bay Area city plans to keep them down as an act of protest.
San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips honored President Trump’s request to lower flags to half staff. But then he added something extra.
“My specific charge was, don’t move it back up until I give a green light,” he said.
Mayor Phillips says he’s sick of raising and lowering the flag with each new atrocity. For now, at least in San Rafael, the flags will stay down until something is done about it.
“I’ve been asked a number of times to lower the flag in honor, which I have always done,” Phillips told reporters. “But in this case, I’m not going to put the flags back up until I see some action by Congress. I think it’s way past time for them to get off their dime and do something about this matter.”
On the streets of San Rafael, the reaction Thursday was pretty supportive. There were some questions about what it would really accomplish. Resident Cindy Zimmerman, who actually favors gun control, expressed concerns about politicizing the symbol of the lowered flag.
“I prefer that the flag should fly at half staff for a respectful period of time and not have it linked with legislation,” she said.
And, this being Marin County, there were those who felt the Mayor didn’t go far enough.
“This country is not what it’s supposed to be,” said resident Dave Levenson. “Take the flag down, put it in the cabinet, get gun control under control like we need in this country and then you can put the flags back up and be proud of them.”
If there was one place that you might find residents who disagree with the move, you’d think it would be the Marin Rod and Gun Club. But even there, the flag was lowered and its gun-owning, NRA-member bartender Billy Sheehan said he supports the mayor’s quiet protest.
“He’s made the right statement,” Sheehan said. “That half flag? That’s huge. That’s a statement. I agree with that.”
And on that statement, the Mayor says he’s standing pat.
“Next step is to sit back and see what action is taken,” he said. “If none is taken, the flags remain.”
Mayor Phillips isn’t advocating any particular gun control legislation; he said that’s Congress’s job to figure out. However, he said, at this point, taking no action is unacceptable.
He also said he doesn’t know of anywhere else in the country where this is being done, but added he didn’t want to wait until someone in San Rafael died to make a statement.