Confederate flag returns to Georgia license plates

Redesign eliminates background banner but keeps battle flag in foreground.

ATLANTA (WXIA) -- The Confederate battle flag is making a return appearance to Georgia license plates. The specialty tag devoted to the Sons of Confederate Veterans will return after a minor redesign.

The state is saying as little as possible about this. Governor Deal is out of the country. And the state revenue department, which issues license plates, is only saying that it has had "positive conversations" about the plate with the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The Confederate battle flag "was something that we couldn't change," said Dan Coleman, spokesman for the Georgia SCV. The SCV fights on behalf of the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of Southern heritage.

When a white supremacist shot and killed nine African Americans in Charleston SC in July, that state's governor ordered the battle flag taken down from the grounds of the state capitol. In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal ordered a redesign of the state plate that honors the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Coleman says the redesign will eliminate the background Confederate flag, while keeping the foreground Confederate flag.

"The governor did what he said he would do: Take that backdrop off it. We can live with that," Coleman said.

But the move angered people who want the state government to stop using the battle flag, saying it's identified nowadays as a symbol of white supremacy.

"This governor had a chance to bring people together. And I think he muffed it," said Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta).

Fort says Gov. Deal should have followed South Carolina's lead and eliminated the battle flag symbol.

"What that Confederate flag symbolizes is just so hateful and so mean-spirited that to say that 'we'll compromise by only slapping you once' is not acceptable," Fort said Thursday.

Georgia's new Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plate is expected to be available to paying customers in the next few weeks.

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