Napa, CA – The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) denied a retired cop’s request for vanity license plates that read “BLUTHINL” because that term “may be considered threatening, aggressive or hostile.”
Scott Parkhurst, a U.S. Army veteran and former police officer, told the Times-Herald that he had a vanity plate on his motorcycle that read “OFFASIR” and another on a car that read “10CODES,” so he was surprised when his latest idea was rejected.
Parkhurst said he requested the vanity plate “BLUTHINL” in March, a play on the phrase “Thin Blue Line.”
He got a letter that said his plate request was approved by the DMV and his plates would “be ready in six to nine weeks,” the Times-Herald reported.
But when Parkhurst went to the Napa DMV to pick up his vanity plates he was told there was a delay and it would “be a few more weeks.”
Then he received another letter in July that said the DMV had changed its mind and called the plate “offensive… and threatening.”
The letter from DMV said “the department strives to support the diversity of California culture and the idea of free expression,” the Times-Herald reported.
Then it went on to say they had rejected the application for “BLUTHINL” because “it may be considered offensive, which could be misleading, or in conflict with existing license plates.”
Then the letter from the DMV claimed the tag requested “may be considered threatening, aggressive or hostile,” according to the Times-Herald.
The letter told its recipients to expect a refund of $53 within 60 to 90 days.
Parkhurst, who ordered the vanity plates two months before the nationwide riots began surrounding the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police, said he was really surprised by the rejection, the Times-Herald reported.
“I was shocked and hurt and felt my freedom of speech and expression was ripped from my gut,” Parkhurst said. “It wasn’t just a slap in my face, but every current and former police officers’ face.”
“The state of California accepted this request,” the former combat medic and veteran of a Bay Area law enforcement agency said. “Then, last week, I get this letter that my license plate was ‘offensive and threatening.’ I’d like to know who came to this conclusion and, for some reason, felt threatened.”
The DMV did not respond to request for comment by the Times-Herald, and U.S. Representative Michael Thompson’s office kicked the question back in California’s court and said “this is a state issue and the DMV determines what is and isn’t acceptable.”
Parkhurst, 62, said he thought the new vanity plate was “definitely” rejected because of current anti-police sentiment in the country, the Times-Herald reported.
“They didn’t seem to have a problem with my other plates,” he said. “I take this personally though I’m trying hard not to.”
Parkhurst was puzzled by the sentiments expressed in the DMV’s letter, the Times-Herald reported.
“Are they trying to say that if I was a civilian and I came up on a car that says BLUTHINL, that I would be threatened by that?” he asked. “I’m trying to figure out what’s threatening or offensive. I’m trying really hard to put myself in the shoes of the DMV’s position.”
“It only means the person who is driving this vehicle supports police officers in general and their families. Just like a ‘BLM person’ supports Black Lives Matters,” Parkhurst reasoned.
He wants the DMV to make an apology to law enforcement, the Times-Herald reported.
“This has to stop,” Parkhurst said. “I want an apology to all officers. It didn’t just hurt me, it hurt all my brothers and sisters.”
The former police officer said he will be talking to an attorney about his options, the Times-Herald reported.
“If they do this [reject his application] to me, they’ll do it to someone else,” Parkhurst said. “They can’t keep treating people like this. I have absolutely no faith in the DMV.”