Story at a glance
- The Confederate flag license plates were a specialty plate for the North Carolina Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans.
- The group says the move by the state is discriminatory and illegal.
- The movement to remove Confederate symbols from public spaces gained traction last year following the police killing of George Floyd.
The North Carolina chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has filed a lawsuit against the state following the recent decision to stop issuing and renewing specialty license plates depicting the Confederate flag.
The new policy took effect at the start of this year with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles determining that license plates bearing the Confederate flag can be offensive, as the flag is seen by many people as a symbol for the legacy of slavery and racial segregation.
“We have therefore concluded that display of the Confederate battle flag is inappropriate for display on specialty license plates, which remain property of the state,” the agency said at the time.
The Confederate flag license plates were a specialty plate for the North Carolina Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans, who claim the rule is discriminatory against the group and illegal.
“Our legally registered emblem represents our membership and our shared family history,” the state commander for the group Kevin Stone said in a statement.
Stone said the organization rejects the agency’s “demand” the group adopt a different emblem to represent them and said the state's Department of Transportation (DOT) never contacted the group regarding the change with the group or any alternatives.
“Legal proceedings will show the DOT has acted in bad faith, ignoring our efforts to uphold our legal rights,” Stone said.
“To assume the Confederate Battle Flag is uniquely offensive is to validate only one viewpoint and thereby discriminate against others. This blatant discrimination by our government is often driven by an ignorance of our state’s real history and a deep hatred for our inheritance as Southerners,” he added.
The movement to remove Confederate symbols from public spaces gained traction last year following the police killing of George Floyd.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has campaigned for the removal of Confederate statues and monuments for years, more than 160 Confederate symbols were removed from public spaces or renamed in 2020, more than the previous four years combined.
“Confederate symbols are a form of systemic racism used to intimidate, instill fear, and remind Black people that they have no place in American society. The SPLC firmly believes that all symbols of white supremacy should be removed from public spaces and will continue to support community efforts to remove, rename and relocate them,” Lecia Brooks, SPLC chief of staff, said in a statement announcing news last month.
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