Politics & Government

Petition calls on McCrory to stop Confederate flag plates

Kevin Rogers of the liberal advocacy group Action NC speaks to reporters about a petition calling on Gov. Pat McCrory to end Confederate flag license plates.
Kevin Rogers of the liberal advocacy group Action NC speaks to reporters about a petition calling on Gov. Pat McCrory to end Confederate flag license plates. ccampbell@newsobserver.com

Two liberal groups delivered a petition Thursday asking Gov. Pat McCrory to take action ending Confederate flag license plates.

Action NC and Progress NC Action dropped off petitions with 13,000 signatures at McCrory’s office. A security guard accepted the boxes, and the groups didn’t speak with anyone from the governor’s staff.

McCrory has called on legislators to pass a bill to stop issuing the specialty plates, which benefit the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Legislative leaders say the change is the governor’s responsibility, but he has said he doesn’t have the necessary legal authority.

The law doesn’t give McCrory the authority to act, a spokesman, Graham Wilson, said.

“It’s time for the General Assembly to provide the governor the legislative fix he needs so that this issue can be resolved once and for all,” Wilsons said.

Kevin Rogers of Action NC also says that McCrory should take the lead. “His claim that he is powerless to control one of his own agencies is downright absurd,” he said Thursday. “This is clearly within the scope of his gubernatorial power.”

Rogers questioned the governor’s motives in his handling of the issue. “To take action is more politically dangerous than talking about it, and I don’t think he wants to take that next step,” he said.

So far, the only action on Confederate plates is a spike in interest among drivers. About 150 plates were ordered in seven days, causing the Division of Motor Vehicles to run out of the plates.

While attention this week has been on the fate of Confederate monuments, Rogers argues the plates should be the main priority.

“We are not saying that the Confederate monuments should be removed, and we do not support acts of vandalism,” he said. “Our so-called leaders have very troubling priorities when it comes to the state endorsing what many consider to be a symbol of hate.”

The N.C. Republican Party, which has been highlighting connections between Action NC and labor unions, issued a statement condemning the petition effort.

“These are more out-of-state union-funded publicity stunts and attacks on Gov. McCrory that should make North Carolinians sick,” party director Todd Poole said.

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