Both sides of Confederate debate pressure McCrory to act
Posted July 23, 2015
RALEIGH, N.C. — As the debate over the appropriateness of Confederate symbols continues to grow in North Carolina, groups on both sides of the issue are raising pressure on Gov. Pat McCrory to take action.
On Thursday, advocacy groups delivered a petition with more than 13,000 signatures to the governor's offices in the old Capitol building, urging McCrory to use his executive authority to halt the sale of vanity license plates bearing symbol of the Confederate battle flag.
Hours later, McCrory signed a much-debated bill protecting historical monuments – including an unknown number of Confederate memorials. House Democrats had launched a long floor debate in protest of the bill earlier this week, at times eliciting frustrated responses from Republicans who supported memorials honoring Confederate veterans.
"We are not saying that the Confederate monuments should be moved. We do not support acts of vandalism against them, but in the wake of last month's tragedy in Charleston, our so-called leaders have very troubling priorities, endorsing what many consider to be a symbol of hate," said Kevin Rogers, a spokesman for Action N.C., one of the sponsors of the petition. "We need to see that change, and that change needs to happen today."
McCrory said he wants to stop issuing the plates, which have been sold to more than 2,000 supporters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. But he says he thinks the law requires him to wait for General Assembly approval. At the same time, legislative leaders say it is the governor's decision.
Rogers said McCrory "needs to show a little leadership. Certainly, legal ambiguity is not something that's prevented him from taking legal action before."
The delay has allowed more people to order the battle flag plates. The Division of Motor Vehicles received a high volume of requests at the end of last month in the days after McCrory called for halting them, and the agency processed the equivalent of nine months' worth of orders in less than 10 days.
The North Carolina NAACP has scheduled a press conference on Friday at their offices in Durham urging McCrory to veto the monuments bill and end the sale of the Confederate license plates.
McCrory traveled to Aspen, Colo., this week for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association, and his office has not responded to follow-up requests for comment.
Confederate plates by county
Cumberland County has the largest number of the specialty plates from Sons of Confederate Veterans with a total of 98, according to DMV data. Bertie County and Davie County both have none.
But adjusted for the total number of cars and trucks registered each county, Tyrrell County has the highest percentage of plates – a rate of about 164 per 100,000 vehicles – relative to its small population. Cherokee, Anson and Clay counties follow close behind with rates of more than 100 plates per 100,000 vehicles.
Click a county in the map below to see how many specialty plates marked with the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo have been issued by the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles, per 100,000 vehicles registered in each county.