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License Plate Ruling Makes DuPont Reconsider


Last week, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision that Virginia may not ban the Sons of Confederate Veterans battle-flag logo from the group's state-issued license plates.

Gov. Mark Warner chose not to appeal the decision on the grounds that an appeal would be unlikely to succeed, stating in a press release that the Confederate flag, "while a symbol of historical heritage to some, is offensive to many Virginians."

It sounds as though a debate that began in 1999 has ended, and the plates are here to stay. "That's good," says Jones, pleased upon hearing of the governor's decision. It's a victory for SCV members everywhere, he says. But what's going to happen at DuPont?

The spark that ignited the protests in October 2000 was DuPont's order to Jones to cover the flag-bearing SCV sticker on his truck whenever it was in the company lot. Jones and other DuPont employees had previously acquiesced to the plant's rule forbidding the flag inside — whether on belt buckles, shirts or book jackets — after several other workers found it offensive and complained.

Now plant officials must decide if the battle-flag logo on license plates will be allowed in the company lot. "They're gonna have to accept that," Jones says. "That would be a real lawsuit, if they don't allow a Virginia license plate." As of press time, plant manager Mike Mayberry said he was still pondering about what to tell employees.

Whatever DuPont decides, Jones says, the protests won't stop. "Nothing will change," Jones says. "It didn't start about the plates. It started about the bumper sticker."

In fact, he says, demonstrators are trying to organize a massive rally for the celebration of DuPont's 200th anniversary on May 15 and 16.

The plant is holding an open house for employees, pensioners and their families both nights from 5 to 8, says DuPont spokesman Bill Harrison. The company expects up to 9,000 attendees each day.

Jones, on the other hand, hopes to get hundreds of people to bear flags outside. "We're definitely going to be out there," he says. — MELISSA SCOTT SINCLAIR

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