RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has filed a lawsuit against the state over its decision to stop issuing license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag.
Kevin Stone, state commander for the group, said the state Division of Motor Vehicles never discussed the move with him or the group’s attorneys, despite numerous inquiries about why no new Sons of Confederate Veterans plates had been sent out for months, a news outlet reported Monday.
Stone alleges that North Carolina “acted in bad faith” and has always been hostile to group members. He also said the Confederate flag is the organization’s symbol, and the group shouldn’t have to abandon it on its license plates.
Confederate symbols have come under increased scrutiny in recent years as critics argue they symbolize racism, slavery and division.
“Our legally registered emblem represents our membership and our shared family history. Hating our group’s logo is equivalent to hating our group’s members,” Stone said in a statement. “Symbols can often have more than one meaning. To assume the Confederate Battle Flag is uniquely offensive is to validate only one viewpoint and thereby discriminate against others.”
A DMV spokesman said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued more than two decades ago to get plates made along the lines of other groups with specialty plates.
The agency said the removal of the license plate, issued to members of the SCV, took effect Jan. 1. A Wilmington news outlet reported the move came six months after NCDMV acknowledged it had received complaints about the Confederate battle flag appearing on a specialty license plate.
“The Division of Motor Vehicles has determined that license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag have the potential to offend those who view them,” the agency said in a statement. “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.”