The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is apologizing Monday for issuing what it calls an “offensive and distasteful” personalized license plate.
The department is in the process of retrieving the license plate that reads “FMUSLMS.” A photo of a Chevy truck with the plates is making the rounds on social media. It was taken in St. Cloud.
“This personalized license plate should never have been issued; it is offensive and distasteful,” a statement from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said. “The Department of Public Safety apologizes for this error.”
In a statement, Gov. Mark Dayton expressed outrage that the plate was issued:
“I am appalled that this license plate was issued by the State of Minnesota. It is offensive, and the person who requested it should be ashamed. That prejudice has no place in Minnesota. I have instructed the Commissioner of Public Safety to retrieve this plate as soon as possible and re-review agency procedures to ensure it does not occur again.”
The Driver and Vehicle Services Department, which oversees the issuing of license plates, is reviewing the process of approving personalized license plates and will provide additional review and oversight of applications, according to Bruce Gordon, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
The plate in question was issued in June of 2015 in Foley, a central Minnesota town that is the county seat of Benton County. It is about 20 miles east of St. Cloud.
The truck is owned by a Big Lake man, according to public records. Efforts to reach the man have been unsuccessful.
The plate troubled leaders at the Council on American Islamic Relations in Minnesota. Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said his organization plans to send a letter to the state asking it to have tighter oversight on the personalized plates.
“We are extremely concerned as a community that this type of expression of anti-Muslim (sentiment) is not only existing but we also missed looking at it,” Hussein said. “In a personalized license plate, there should be much more careful view because of a lot of people who want to create certain types of messages.”
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety allows vehicle owners to apply for a personalized plate that are no more than seven characters.
The department’s policies say it will not issue plates that replicate existing series of plates or a series reserved for future use. Plates cannot be obscene, immoral, indecent or something that would offend public morals or decency.
Hussein said he is glad the state is responding to the plate but he still finds it troubling and would like to see policy changes to prevent it in the future.
“There certainly was a great miss by the DMV,” Hussein said.