EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — An Atlantic County freeholder whose "South Jersey Rebel" patch on his vest included a Confederate flag has issued an apology and removed it.

John Carman said he has worn the patch for years and it was intended to symbolize the political divide between North and South Jersey.

"I apologize for my insensitivity to those it may have offended and assure you that was not my intent. I always have, and always will represent ALL people, regardless of race or religion," Carman said in a statement on his Facebook page.

Story continues after the Facebook post

The patch was brought to light by Atlantic County Democrats. Earlier in the week, Carmen told the Townsquare News Network that he would remove the patch but defended its use. On Thursday, however, he added that he felt the need to formally apologize further thought and reflection.

"The patch never had any racial overtones at all and never intended that way. If I offended people I apologize for that," Carman told the Townsquare News Network on Friday.

He doesn't see the removal of the patch and apology as giving into political correctness.

"I really don't want to be offensive to people. By doing that it just causes commotion and makes it harder to do my job. It's easier just to take it off," Carmen said.

Carmen said has not given thought to a replacement patch but will be careful in selecting it. But he is still a firm believer in a North Jersey/South Jersey political divide. "There's a difference and that patch lampoons that."

When asked if he believes in Central Jersey, Carmen laughed.

"Where's that? I'm a South Jersey boy. I have sand in my shoes."

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