(AP) — Georgia officials have once again approved a specialty license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag, infuriating civil rights advocates and renewing a debate among those who believe the symbol honors Confederate heritage and those who see it as racially charged.
The Georgia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans requested the new plate design, and the Georgia Department of Revenue recently approved it. The group’s old plate had a small Confederate battle flag. The new one features an additional, larger image in the background that covers the entire plate.
Spokesman Ray McBerry said the group meant no offense and views the plates as a way for people to honor their heritage.
“We believe that everyone has the right to preserve their heritage,” he said. “Southerners have as much right to be proud of their heritage as anybody else.”
Southern Christian Leadership Conference spokesman Maynard Eaton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the state shouldn’t have sanctioned the move.
“To display this is reprehensible,” Eaton said. “We don’t have license plates saying ‘Black Power.'”
Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday that he was unaware of the plate.
“I hadn’t heard that, so I don’t know anything about it,” Deal said. “I’ll have to talk to them about it. I had no information in advance about it.”0