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Alaska officials probe how DMV issued ‘Nazi’ vanity license plates

Alaska officials are investigating after the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles issued license plates with Nazi terminology.

Photos on Twitter have appeared over the last week of personalized plates with the words: ‘3REICH’ and ‘FUHRER.’  

The first plate references the Third Reich, the official name for Germany under the Nazi Regime from January 1933 to May 1945, while the second plate references the official title Adolf Hitler used to define his role of absolute authority.

Meanwhile, a member of Alaska’s Human Rights Commission – which investigates discrimination complaints – has been removed over comments she made about the controversy, in which she defended the plates. 

The Alaska Department of Administration has launched an investigation into license plates issued with Nazi terminology by the Department of Motor Vehicles (above)

Photos have circulated social media of vanity plates reading 3REICH' (above), in reference the name for Nazi Germany, and 'FUHRER,' referencing Adolf Hitler

Photos have circulated social media of vanity plates reading 3REICH’ (above), in reference the name for Nazi Germany, and ‘FUHRER,’ referencing Adolf Hitler

Official say both plates in question have since been recalled and replacement standard plates were issued. Pictured: License plate reading 'FUHRER'

Official say both plates in question have since been recalled and replacement standard plates were issued. Pictured: License plate reading ‘FUHRER’

The issue drew attention after a former newspaper editor, Matt Tunseth, posted a picture of the plate reading ‘3REICH’ on social media. 

Tunseth later wrote he was at a stop light in Anchorage on Friday when he saw the plate and took a photo.

And, in an article published on Tuesday, attorney Eva Gardner told the Anchorage Daily News that she saw a black Hummer SUV with a personalized license plate that read ‘FUHRER’ in October 2020.  

Debate over the issue gained traction on social media and blogs over the weekend.

On Monday, Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka announced on Monday that she was ordering a review of Division of Motor Vehicles’ processes to determine how the plates were issued.   

The division falls under Tshibaka’s department. Her statement did not indicate when the plates were issued.

Tshibaka’s statement said her office learned over the weekend that ‘several Alaskans were concerned about messages conveyed’ on personalized plates. 

Anchorage Assembly member Jamie Allard (pictured) defended the plates, writing that 'fuhrer' and 'reich' are just the German words for 'leader' and 'realm'

Anchorage Assembly member Jamie Allard (pictured) defended the plates, writing that ‘fuhrer’ and ‘reich’ are just the German words for ‘leader’ and ‘realm’

She did not specify the messages, but a spokesperson, Kelly Hanke, in response to concerns raised by a state lawmaker, confirmed the office had received complaints about a plate that read ‘3REICH.’

Tshibaka said the plates in question had previously been recalled by the motor vehicles division and replacement standard plates were issued for display instead. 

She said the department was notifying law enforcement about the ‘unauthorized’ plates. 

‘The Alaska DMV has strict guidelines and protocols for issuing personalized license plates, which prohibit references to violence, drugs, law enforcement, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and other government entities,’ she said in a statement. 

‘The DMV has a recall process in place should a plate be issued that later is determined to be inappropriate or offensive, which was used in this circumstance.

Hanke told The Associated Press by email on Tuesday that the ‘3REICH’ plate was recalled in early January, and a notice was sent to the owner with a new standard plate.

A list of rejected plates Hanke provided also included one that read ‘FUHRER.’ She said she believed that one was recalled in December.

‘Once a plate is replaced it is illegal for use. An owner of a vehicle displaying an invalid plate can be ticketed just like an expired tag on a plate,’ Hanke wrote. 

In response, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy removed Allard from Alaska's Human Rights Commission, which investigates discrimination complaints (above)

In response, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy removed Allard from Alaska’s Human Rights Commission, which investigates discrimination complaints (above)

Meanwhile, a state official has been kicked off of a committee after she defended the terms on the license plate.

Jamie Allard, an Anchorage Assembly member, wrote on her official Facebook page that ‘fuhrer’ and ‘reich’ are just the German words for ‘leader’ and ‘realm.’

‘If you speak the language fluently, you would know that the English definition of the word,’ she wrote. 

‘The progressives have put a spin on it and created their own definition.’ 

The page has since been taken down Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has removed Allard from Alaska’s Human Rights Commission.

In an email to USA TODAY, Allard said she finds the plates ‘in poor taste’ but said her comments have been misinterpreted. 

‘Some political bloggers and Assembly members are claiming that I am supporting white supremacy because of recent comments I made questioning what words are not allowed on license plates,’ she wrote.

‘As a person of color myself, I unequivocally condemn racism and white supremacy in all forms.’




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