Student protesters tear down Confederate statue at UNC

Grace Gottschling
Investigative Reporter

  • A group of student protesters toppled the controversial "Silent Sam" statue at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Monday night.
  • Students have long agitated for the removal of the Confederate monument, but state law barred UNC from altering or relocating the statue without approval from a state historical commission.
  • Silent Sam after being vandalized earlier this year (Photo credit: Kirk A. Bado)

    Student protesters tore down a “racist” Confederate statue, known as “Silent Sam,” at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Monday night.

    UNC students and community members gathered around the statue at about 7:00 p.m. for a planned protest where they shouted “hey, hey, ho, ho, these racist statues have got to go” and “cops go home” to multiple officers who were protecting the monument, according to The Daily Tar Heel.

    "Last night’s actions were unlawful and dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured. The police are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage."   

    [RELATED: Police predict UNC students will tear down Confederate statue]

    The crowd covered the statue with banners and signs, obscuring it from view, before using ropes to pull Silent Sam to the ground. Protesters then covered the head of the fallen statue in dirt and mud before police officers intervened.

    The protest, was originally organized in support of a student, Maya Little, who was arrested in April for throwing a red mixture of paint and her own blood on the statue. 

    “Chancellor Folt, if you refuse to remove the statue, then we will continue to contextualize it,” Little told the Tar Heel in a prepared statement in May. “Silent Sam is violence; Silent Sam is the genocide of black people; Silent Sam is antithetical to our right to exist. You should see him the way that we do, at the forefront of our campus covered in our blood.”

    [RELATED: UNC students plan rally in 'solidarity' with criminal vandal]

    One protestor spoke briefly at the beginning of the protest while wearing a noose draped loosely around his neck.

    “From this day on, I intend to wear a noose on my neck when I am at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” the man said, according to coverage by the Tar Heel.

    As previously reported by Campus Reform, UNC has repeatedly informed students that it is not allowed to remove the statue due to state law, noting almost exactly one year ago that unless a building inspector determined the statue posed a risk to public safety due to physical disrepair, the university has no legal right to remove it.

    [RELATED: 17 anonymous UNC profs vow to tear down Confederate statue]

    “Around 9:20 p.m., a group from among an estimated crowd of 250 protesters brought down the Confederate Monument on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” a UNC spokesman told Campus Reform. “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.”

    “The monument has been divisive for years, and its presence has been a source of frustration for many people not only on our campus but throughout the community,” Carol Folt, UNC chancellor, wrote in a statement published Tuesday.

    “However, last night’s actions were unlawful and dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured,” Folt added. “The police are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage.”

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    Grace Gottschling

    Grace Gottschling

    Investigative Reporter

    Grace Gottschling is the Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She is a recent graduate of The College of New Jersey and has experience traveling across the country to engage and train others in pro-life apologetics. Grace manages research and Freedom of Information Act records requests for Campus Reform.

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