The battle over the Confederate flag has moved into Union territory.
Maryland’s motor-vehicle department has issued special license plates with the flag to about 70 members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, offending black leaders.
“Maryland doesn’t need to go backwards with this Jim Crow mess,” said state Sen. Larry Young, a Baltimore Democrat and chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Young and Hanley Norment, president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said they will ask the state Motor Vehicle Administration to stop issuing the special plates.
“We in the NAACP are surprised and disappointed that a state agency would cooperate in perpetuating such symbols as this one,” Norment said.
Patrick J. Griffin III, a Maryland member of the Sons of the Confederacy, said his organization is not racist and abhors the activities of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
“There is no intention whatsoever to offend anyone,” he said.
Griffin, whose great-great-grandfather fought in the Confederate Army, said the license plates are “a symbol of pride in our heritage.”
The plates were approved two years ago and the agency received no complaints until this week, perhaps because only 70 sets of plates out of 3.7 million issued in Maryland carry the battle flag logo, said Motor Vehicle Administration spokesman Jim Lang.