August 21, 2018

Protesters at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Topple Confederate Statue

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA—A protest on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus Monday evening resulted in the removal of statue memorializing the Confederacy, Andy Thomason reports for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Known as “Silent Sam,” the statue has been a point of contention for decades for its commemoration of a white-supremacist state. The statute was installed in 1913 following its donation by the Daughters of the Confederacy.

In recent years, the statue has been the subject of rallies by Black Lives Matter organizations, and in April 2017, figured in artist and UNC–Chapel Hill MFA candidate Jeanine Tatlock’s project mapping the university’s white supremacist past. In April 2018, Maya Little, a second-year doctoral student in history at UNC–Chapel Hill, doused the statue with blood and red ink amid calls for its removal. The university has spent $390,000 on security and surveillance for the statue in the last year alone.

Monday’s action coincides with the start of the university’s fall semester and comes just a year after protesters in nearby Durham, North Carolina, toppled a statue commemorating the Confederacy outside that city’s courthouse. The Durham protest was a response to white-supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. A state law passed in 2015 forbids the removal of “objects of remembrance” from state-owned land, such as the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, without special permission from the state.

University leaders have condemned the statue but have cited the 2015 for its continued presence on campus. Following the protest, the university released a statement noting that “an estimated crowd of 250 protesters brought down the Confederate Monument on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Tonight’s actions were dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured. We are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage.”

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