The state of Minnesota apologized on Tuesday for issuing a vanity license plate that contained a thinly veiled message of hate, saying it should have never been approved and would be immediately revoked.
The plate, which read “FMUSLMS,” was spotted in St. Cloud on Saturday, shared on Snapchat and then posted on the Facebook page Unite Cloud, a group dedicated to increasing understanding between cultural groups in the city. Then it was brought it to the state’s attention.
“This personalized license plate should never have been issued; it is offensive and distasteful,” the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said in a statement provided to Fox 9, a local Fox affiliate.
The state form requires applicants submit a statement that “adequately explains the meaning is required” and that it may not offend “public morals or decency.” It wasn’t immediately clear if the man submitted a statement for the “FMUSLMS” plate.
“We are in the process of revoking and taking possession of the plates today. The Department of Public Safety apologizes for this error,” it said, adding that the state’s Driver and Vehicle Services Division would review its process for approving the custom plates.
Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton said he was “appalled” that this plate was issued, calling it “offensive” and saying “the person who requested it should be ashamed,” according to a statement he issued.
“That prejudice has no place in Minnesota,” Dayton said.
The license plate was flagged by concerned residents spurred on by Unite Cloud’s post, which included a contact form and instructions to raise a complaint. The groups founders, Haji Yusuf and Nalalie Ringsmuth, said they were impressed by the post’s impact and that the episode showed exactly what the effort was all about.
“That really is what #unitecloud is all about,” Ringsmuth told a local radio station. “The fact that central Minnesota residents responded by calling and emailing local and state governments and we were able to get a quick response.”
The duo added that they didn’t want to see the state worker who approved the plate fired, the local NBC affiliate reported. Rather, they asked that it be used as an opportunity for both the worker and the man who purchased the license plate “to take time and reflect and learn about Islam.”
Both the governor and the state’s Department of Public Safety said they would review processes for requesting the custom plates to be sure such an oversight doesn’t happen again.