The Confederate statue known as “Silent Sam” was torn down at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by protestors on Monday night.
UNC students marched down Franklin Street to protests their school’s apparent institutional white supremacy.
The 300 protestors gathered around Silent Sam and began chanting, “stand up, fight back” and, “hey, hey, ho, ho, this racist statue has got to go.”
Frustrated with the university’s ideologies, the demonstrators toppled the monument with their own hands.
A small group of protestors reportedly used a rope to bring the statue down. By 9:30 PM, protestors had buried Silent Sam’s head in the dirt.
“Next up, Charlottesville!” protesters shouted as the statue fell.
Silent Sam, a memorial to the Confederate alumni of The University of North Carolina, has been torn down.#SilentSam was a prominent figure on UNC's quad.
This is going to cause a major uproar in North Carolina. pic.twitter.com/r4HVZAZ7CA
— Ted Corcoran (RedTRaccoon) (@RedTRaccoon) August 21, 2018
Counter-protestors wearing Confederate flag T-shirts were seen arguing with student protestors. However, no physical altercations took place between the two groups.
Only one person was arrested during the demonstration. The individual in question was charged with concealing their face during a public rally and resisting arrest.
— The Daily Tar Heel (@dailytarheel) August 20, 2018
Silent Sam was erected in 1913 to commemorate the 300 alumni of UNC-Chapel Hill who died in the Civil War. The statue also acted as a monument to the 1,000 alumni who joined the Confederate States Army. Funded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Silent Sam has been a target of vandalism for decades.
Even though the monument has sparked controversy for decades, the neo-nazi rally in Charlottesville last year has revitalized the calls to tear it down.
In April, UNC doctoral student Maya Little was arrested after splashing her own blood and red ink on the statue.
Monday’s demonstration was initially a gathering to support Little, who is facing criminal charges. According to the Raleigh News and Observer, the event “quickly morphed into a march… to the UNC campus, where police officers stood at the monument.”
“It’s time to build monuments to honor those who have been murdered by white supremacy,” Little told the crowd during the rally.
“It’s time to tear down Silent Sam. It’s time to tear down UNC’s institutional white supremacy,” she continued.
In a statement following Monday night’s events, school officials said:
“Tonight’s actions were dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured.”
The university stated that it has opened a vandalism investigation and is “assessing the full extent of the damage.”
A statement about the Confederate Monument at UNC-Chapel Hill pic.twitter.com/7D45yiAAeb
— UNC-Chapel Hill (@UNC) August 21, 2018
North Carolina, as well as other southern states, have many laws which protect Confederate monuments. The previous governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, passed a bill which prohibits the dismantling of any “object of remembrance” on public property which “commemorates an event, a person or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history.”
UNC spent over $390,000 last year on security for the statue.
The current governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, stated that he “understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change.”
While he shares this frustration, he said that “violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities.”
The Governor understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change and he shares their frustration, but violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities. 2/2
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) August 21, 2018
Featured Image via Flickr.