Protesters Again at War With Confederate Statues in North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA — August 21, 2018
Protests over a Confederate statue at UNC-Chapel Hill have flared up again in the past year, and another Confederate monument in nearby Durham was torn down shortly after the Virginia protest.
Yesterday evening, a Confederate statue in the heart of North Carolina's flagship university was toppled again during a rally by some 300 protesters who believe that the so-called "Silent Sam" statue was a symbol of the state’s racist heritage.
The statue was given to the university by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1909, and erected in 1913.
The crowd pulled it down at around 7 p.m., and proceed to kick it and cheer. The statue lay face down in the mud, trampled and broken.
“Tonight’s actions were dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured,” the school said in a statement posted on Twitter. “We are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage.”
The protesters chanted "Tar Heels!" and "Whose Campus? Our Campus!" Cars honked as they passed nearby on the college town's main drag
"I heard the statue had come down, so I had to see it myself," said freshman Manuel Ricardo, who arrived after the statue was on the ground.
The site of the empty pedestal "is pretty breathtaking," said Ricardo, who's African American. "I think most people here are happy. I'm ecstatic."
Many students, faculty, and alumni have called the statue a racist image and asked officials to remove it, though some argued it was a tribute to fallen ancestors. UNC leaders including Chancellor Carol Folt had previously said state law prevented the school from removing the statue.
Junior Ian Goodson said while he doesn't agree with what the Confederacy stood for, he understands that some saw the statue as an important memorial.
"It's a significant event for UNC," he said.
After last years protest, all charges against the suspects were dropped.
Since then, more than 110 symbols of the Confederacy have been removed across the nation with more than 1,700 still standing, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Many Americans see such statues as symbols of racism and glorification of the southern states’ defense of slavery in the Civil War, but others view them as important symbols of American history.
Gov. Roy Cooper had called for removing Silent Sam and other rebel symbols on public land. A state historic panel is set to meet this week to debate Cooper's request to remove other Confederate monuments at the state Capitol.
The Democratic governor issued a statement on Twitter Monday night arguing the protesters took the wrong approach to remove the statue.
"The Governor understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change and he shares their frustration, but the violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities," read a tweet from his official account.