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Confederate License Plates In Tennessee Have Spiked 72 Percent Since 2015

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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The ownership of Confederate license plates in Tennessee has spiked by 72 percent in the past three years.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans has sold its plate, emblazoned with the Confederate battle flag, for 14 years, but has not seen such high sales since at least 2007, reported the Tennesseean Wednesday. The group did not have data on hand for 2004-2007 sales.

“Every time that some of our history that we’re so proud of has been attacked, people have gone out, and probably some members who had license plates but quit renewing have gone back and put them back on their vehicle,” said Sons of Confederate Veterans commander James Patterson, who leads the Tennessee chapter.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans sold 3,273 license plates in fiscal year 2018, a figure 72 percent higher than the 1,902 license plates the group distributed to Tennesseans in fiscal year 2015. State and local governments began tearing down and renaming Confederate memorials after Dylann Roof’s June 2015 Charleston church massacre in South Carolina.

Residents can buy the license plate for an annual fee of $61.50, $35 of which Sons of Confederate Veterans gives to the Tennessee Highway Fund and Arts Commission. Sons of Confederate Veterans retained $57,700 of the license plate sales for fiscal year 2018, according to the Department of Revenue. The group uses its funds to place Confederate statues on private grounds, as well as restore and conserve Civil War memorials and other tokens.

While Confederate license plate sales have skyrocketed, they only account for one-tenth of a percent of the 5.6 million plates in Tennessee. Memphis Democratic state Sen. Sara Kyle called the license plates “symbols of hate.” (RELATED: At This Rate, Confederate Statues Could Be Gone In 50 Years)

Citizen purchases of the plates have coincided with the removal of 110 or more Confederate memorials across the country since 2015. More than 1,700 of the memorials remain.

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