RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — There has been a spike the number of Confederate battle flag license plates issued to people in North Carolina.
Since the tragic massacre of nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17 — and the subsequent calls for Confederate flags to be removed from various places in the South — the numbers have exploded for North Carolina residents receiving a Confederate battle flag license plate, according to data from North Carolina Department of Transportation officials.
Before the attack in Charleston, there were 2,064 active Sons of Confederate Veterans plates in the state as of May 31, DOT officials told WNCN.
State residents must be members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization to obtain a plate.
Since the Charleston killings, Gov. Pat McCrory said he wanted the state to remove the Confederate flag symbol from state plates.
Also, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has asked the state legislature there to have a Confederate flag removed from state house grounds.
Also on June 18, the Supreme Court upheld a Texas ban on plates with the Confederate battle flag that was sought by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The two weeks before the Charleston killings, only five plates with the flag were issued. The week before the shootings, there were only three.
But, in the last seven days, there were 152 plates issued, N.C. DOT officials said.
There are currently about 9 million registered vehicles in North Carolina.
Also, a military surplus store in Clayton saw a jump in interest in the Confederate flag.
Eric Stallings, the manage of G.I. Joe’s Army Surplus, said, “Suppliers are starting to cut back, I’m assuming, or not sell at all, which makes supply and demand really hard right now.”
Stallings received 20 Confederate flags on Monday and sold nearly all within an hour.
“My belief is if I can get it and sell it to you at a reasonable price, that’s what I want to do,” he said.
He called the matter “a business thing.”
“I sell as much as I can for what the demand is,” he said.
Other surplus stores told WNCN they were selling out, too. And several Civil War historic sites in the state said they were seeing an increase in sales.
“This is the South,” said Clayton resident Christopher Eller. “So it’s a pretty popular thing around these parts.”
But Preston Campbell, a Raleigh resident, said, “There are still some people who think that Confederate flags are not offensive at all. I mean to disagree. I think it is offensive.”
In addition to McCrory’s request to have the flag removed from North Carolina license plates, Virginia’s governor said he also wants to have the Confederate flag banished from state license plates.
Also, Walmart and online businesses such as Amazon have said they will stop selling merchandise with the Confederate flag emblem.