Tennessee hits record number of Confederate flag license plates

Tennessee hits record number of Confederate flag license plates
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Tennesseans are driving with Confederate flag license plates more than ever before in the last decade, The Tennessean reported on Wednesday.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans plate has been issued since 2004, but the number of plates reportedly jumped in 2015 after the Charleston, S.C., church shooting.

Dylann Roof, the shooter convicted of killing nine parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Church, was a white-supremacist who often donned a Confederate flag and says he was trying to ignite a race war.

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There were 3,273 Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates active in the state at the end of the 2018 fiscal year this June, the Tennessean reported, 72 percent higher than the end of the 2015 fiscal year.

James Patterson, commander of the Tennessee Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, told the newspaper that the organization has been focusing on promoting the license plates amid "all the anti-Confederate rhetoric that's been going on.”

"Every time that some of our history that we're so proud of has been attacked, people have gone out, and probably some members who had license plates but quit renewing have gone back and put them back on their vehicle," he said.

The state Department of Revenue said the Sons of Confederate Veterans received around $57,700 from the plates in the 2018 fiscal year, the newspaper reported.

The Charleston shooting launched a national debate over displaying of Confederate flags, monuments and memorials.

The battle flag was removed from the South Carolina statehouse ground shortly after the shooting.

Since then, 110 Confederate symbols across the country have been removed, according to a June report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.