SUFFOLK, Va. -- More than two months after the Virginia DMV started to recall and replace vanity license plates featuring the Confederate flag, some Virginia drivers have refused to give their plates back to the state. Kevin Collier, of Suffolk, said he would not take his Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate off his SUV, even though the plate expired earlier this month.
"I am not taking it off and I won’t take it off," Collier told WTKR. "It wasn’t about hate, it was a battle flag, a battle flag that we fought for. It had nothing to do with hate, and nothing to do with racism."
Virginia leaders ruled to have the Confederate flag emblem removed from the specialty license plate over the summer after the racially-charged shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina sparked national debate over the flag.
"It was the right thing for Virginia and now we can move ahead," Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said in July.
While the DMV mailed out 1,600 newly designed plates, the agency reported that only 200 of the old license plates were mailed back to them. Collier said he had no interest in the new plate.
"I was born a 150 years too late because I would have loved to have fought for the Confederacy like my ancestors did, but at least I can fight how I can in modern times. I will fight however I can," he said.
His fight could cost him some money. Driving a vehicle with a canceled license plate is a class 2 misdemeanor.
A leader with the Suffolk chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said while he did not agree with the decision to remove the flag, he recognized the law is the law and was surprised by Collier's decision.