Illinois man catches heat on social media over ‘1488’ license plate issued to him by the state

ILLINOIS — An Illinois man has been targeted on social media after a Twitter user spotted a symbolic number used by white supremacists on his state-administered license plate, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The license plate had the number 1488 — a combination of two figures celebrated by white supremacists, according to the Tribune. The first two numbers stand for “14 Words” and references the slogan, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The second two numbers, 8 and 8, represent the eighth letter in the English language — H — and when put together are meant to stand for “Heil Hitler.”

A Twitter user spotted the license plate on the man’s Tesla, snapped a picture of it, and tweeted it to the Illinois Secretary of State’s Twitter account, asking, “Why do you allow Nazis to get Nazi slogans on their Tesla’s personalized license plates?”

The Twitter user defended his tweet in an email to the Tribune.

“Regardless of whether or not someone espouses a white supremacist ideology, in an era where Nazis, fascists and racists have been emboldened to publicly and proudly display their hatred, driving around with a number that both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have singled out as white supremacist ‘hate speech’ on one’s license plate is going to invite scrutiny,” the email said.

But the Twitter user deleted the tweet, saying it was not his intention to invite harm to someone who had no idea what the numbers represented.

The shocked Illinois man, who asked to Tribune for anonymity out of fear for his safety, said he had no idea what the numbers represented.

“I am completely blown away, blown away and a little terrified,” he told the Tribune. “Because that is definitely not me by any stretch of the imagination.”

The man told the Tribune that the plate number was issued by the state of Illinois.

“I had no idea this was associated with white supremacy,” he said. “This is a license plate that’s been in my family for decades. It’s not even a vanity plate. This is just the number they gave to the family years and years and years ago. … I think it was my grandmother. I honestly don’t recall. It’s just been passed down.”

The man told the Tribune that no one has threatened him personally, but he saw the responses to the original tweet — some of which appeared to advocate a violent response if anyone saw his car on the street.

“If you see this car in Illinois: burn it,” one read.

The license plate holder said he was targeted for beliefs he does not have.

“Absolutely, 143 million percent no, I am not a white supremacist,” he told the Tribune. “I am not a Nazi. I do not subscribe to any of those beliefs,” he said. “I feel like I’m a target for something I don’t believe in, and I’m a target for something I had no idea about. Quite frankly, I just need to get home because I’m fearing for my safety.”