August 12, 2022 Updated 10:34 A.M. ET
TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that a ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ license plate is coming to the Sunshine State, available to all Florida drivers. Sales will benefit the Florida Veterans Foundation.
After the announcement, taxpayer-funded NPR published a report saying the announcement “reopened the debate” over the flag.
“The imagery of the Revolutionary War-era Gadsden flag dates to Benjamin Franklin but has, for many, come to symbolize a far-right extremist ideology and the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement that sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election results,” the piece claims.
NPR cited comments from Rachel Carrol Rivas of the Southern Poverty Law Center, saying Florida “can’t claim a lack of knowledge about what this image represents to most of the public.”
“She says it’s become clear that the flag has been used for some ‘really awful’ causes, most notably the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where violent protesters attacked police as part of an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election,” they go on.
In response, Bryan Griffin, Deputy Press Secretary for DeSantis, said had NPR reporter Scott Neuman reached out to their office, they would call those claims “absurd” attempts to “smear the governor.”
“The idea originates from citizens and has to have a threshold of support, then get approved through the legislature,” he said of the process to adopt a new license plate design.
“I am sure these veterans would not appreciate such accusations about their motives, either,” he went on.
Griff explained the history of the flag: “From a historical perspective, the Gadsden flag was used during the American Revolution by colonists fighting for freedom from the oppressive big government of the English king. That spirit has guided America to this day, and Governor DeSantis likewise believes that freedom is a worthy pursuit and viable alternative to heavy-handed government.”
“Many Floridians celebrate Florida as the vanguard of freedom, and countless others have moved here from across the country to live under a state government that enshrines freedom in its decisionmaking.”
The governor said the license plate “sends a clear message to out-of-state cars.”
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