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Federal Court: Virginia Can Remove Confederate Flag From License Plates

© Leesburg Today - 07/31/2015

Judge Jackson Kiser ruled in federal district court in Danville today that the Confederate battle flag can be removed from Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates in Virginia, state Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced.

Kiser is dissolving his 2001 injunction that allowed the Sons group to place the controversial image on specialty Virginia license tags, Herring's office said.

The attorney general last month filed motions to dissolve the injunction and vacate the order that required placement of the flag on Sons' license plates after Gov. Terry McAuliffe decreed that the banner shouldn't be used in this official state capacity.

""This ruling will allow Virginia to remove a symbol of oppression and injustice from public display on its license plates,"" Herring said in a prepared statement. ""Virginia state government does not have to and will not endorse such a divisive symbol. I appreciate Governor McAuliffe's leadership in calling for the removal of the flag and those on my team who moved quickly to get it done.""

Kiser's ruling will not be official until he enters an order, which also will address whether the decision will apply to new license plates, or retroactively to include existing ones, Herring's office said.

In Loudoun, there's also been talk about the appropriateness of the Confederate war memorial on the courthouse grounds in Leesburg.

The NAACP's Loudoun Branch has said it opposes the statue but is concentrating not on having it removed but on having other parts of history officially noted on the courthouse grounds. The slaves sold there should be honored, the thinking goes, and the property's role in the Underground Railroad should be remembered.

Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd voiced her support for such a marker at an NAACP rally at the courthouse July 18.

""I think we do need a memorial to those who died trying to stop slavery, including former slaves and escaped slaves who joined the Union forces,"" she said. ""We need a balance here at the courthouse. We can't just have the Confederacy represented; we need the other side of the story told.""

Umstattd is the Democratic nominee for the Leesburg District seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. She faces Republican Will Estrada on the Nov. 3 ballot.

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