White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Tuesday that President Donald Trump will order flags lowered to half mast at the White House nearly a week after a gunman killed five people at the Annapolis, MD, Capital Gazette newspaper.
The decision comes days after the White House reportedly denied a weekend request by Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley to lower the flags in commemoration of the Gazette employees killed. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan had already ordered state flags to be lowered over the weekend.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed, you know?” Buckley told the Capital Gazette on Monday. “Is there a cutoff for tragedy?”
According to CNN, Trump only decided to lower the flags after confirming the request did, indeed, come from Mayor Buckley.
“Last night, as soon as the President heard about the request from the mayor he ordered the flags to be lowered,” Sanders told the White House press pool on Tuesday morning. Notably, that decision was made after reports that the president had initially declined the mayor’s weekend request.
The issue of when to lower flags for a national tragedy has been a thorny one for Trump, and his predecessors. President Obama, for example, ordered flags lowered following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, but not after the murders at Charlestown, SC’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church.
Speaking with the Gazette, Buckly admitted he’d considered ordering Annapolis’ flags lowered himself, before his wife convinced him otherwise.
“At this point in time, it would start to polarize people,” he explained. “I don’t want to make people angry.”