A rush for North Carolina-issued license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag has depleted what the state had on hand as Gov. Pat McCrory seeks to end their issuance.
The plates are now listed as “out of stock” on the state Department of Motor Vehicles’ website. In a span of seven days, 152 Confederate flag plates were ordered, officials said.
The DMV processed the equivalent of nine months’ worth of orders for the plate in less than 10 days, said DOT spokesman Mike Charbonneau.
McCrory has called on lawmakers to pass a law that limits future issuance of the specialty plate, which is associated with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, considered a civic club under the law that grants plates to various groups. Lawmakers have said McCrory can act on his own.
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About 2,000 plates are currently active and McCrory’s office has said those would remain.
The SCV plates feature the red battle flag crossed with a blue “X” and a license number that ends with “CV.”
The plate issue is part of a movement to remove the Confederate battle flag from public squares and spaces in the wake of the killings of nine people in a church in Charleston, S.C. Images of the alleged shooter emerged quickly showing him displaying the battle flag.
The commander of the N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans, J. Daniel Bolick, said he has concerns about the spreading movement to purge the flag.
“The idea that if the Confederate flag is removed from public view then this type of crime will cease is an insult to Southerners and all Americans. Further, if one were to assume Confederate memorials contribute to such atrocities then it stands to reason the entire Southland would be a bloodbath due to the prevalence of such symbols,” he wrote on the club’s Facebook page.
In a statement last week, Bolick said that the governor’s call to put a stop to the license plates punishes “thousands of Tar Heels who have no connection whatsoever to the dastardly event that occurred in Charleston, South Carolina. Their only ‘sin’ is to have had Southern ancestors who fought for the Confederacy, whom they memorialize with a custom license tag.”
A link for members to order the club’s special plate was posted on the Facebook page the day after McCrory issued a statement signaling he would try to stop their production.
Charbonneau said it will be about 30 days before a new supply of plates will be available and, for now, the DMV will continue issuing them.
McCrory first asked the General Assembly in a June 23 statement to change the North Carolina statute to discontinue the Confederate battle flag emblem on state-issued license plates.
Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, said the issue can be resolved in the executive branch.
The following day, McCrory told reporters that he would act if he could, but his understanding was that there is a clear statute that did not give him that authority. Berger maintained his position that since the plates are authorized through an administrative process, there is “some level of executive administrative discretion involved in the issuance of those plates and what goes on those plates.”
McCrory’s spokesman Josh Ellis said this week the governor still believes “a legislative fix is required to discontinue the plates.”
Plates ordered by day after governor’s announcement:
June 23– 8 plates
June 24 – 34 plates
June 25– 47 plates
June 26– 41 plates
June 27– 12 plates
June 28– 3 plates
June 29 – 7 plates