Va. Gov: Dump Confederate License Plates

Symbol 'unnecessarily divisive and hurtful': Terry McAuliffe
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2015 11:16 AM CDT
Confederate flags are planted next to the graves of Confederate soldiers in Oakland Cemetery, April 22, 2013, in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(Newser) – Walmart has dumped its Confederate flag merchandise, South Carolina pols are pushing to rid the symbol from the Capitol, and now Virginia's governor says he wants to erase the icon he calls "unnecessarily divisive and hurtful" from license plates. Terry McAuliffe announced his intentions this morning in Richmond, the Confederacy's former capital, saying he's already spoken to his state's AG and transportation secretary, the Washington Post reports. Part of the process will be reversing an older decision by the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in 2002, which decided specialty plates designed for the Sons of Confederate Veterans group fell under the free-speech umbrella, per the Roanoke Times. Virginia politicians had been largely silent about Confederate iconography after last week's Charleston church shootings.

McAuliffe broke that silence today, saying, "Although the battle flag is not flown here on Capitol Square, it has been the subject of considerable controversy, and it divides many of our people," per the Post. His decision to ditch the plates also comes a week after the Supreme Court decided Texas could get rid of its license plates bearing Confederate symbols because the plates are state owned. Sen. Adam Ebbin tells the Post there are other ways to show your Southern pride: "I know some people think of it as Virginia heritage, but if a huge percentage of Virginia considers it offensive, I don't know if we need to put the state's [seal of approval] on it. That's what a bumper sticker is for." (Here's why it might not be so simple to get rid of Confederate symbols.)

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