Confederate statue at UNC Chapel Hill vandalized

The statue may be named “Silent Sam,” but the graffiti vandals sprayed on it was anything but quiet.

A statue called “Silent Sam” at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) honoring Confederate soldiers was recently graffitied with the phrases “Black Lives Matter,” “KKK,” “Murderer,” and "Tear it down.” The vandalism has drawn support from some students because they claim Silent Sam represents slavery rather than the deceased soldiers.

"The artist responsible for this thing we like to call vandalism I think what they've done is not vandalism, they've made a major improvement to the statue," Nikhil Umesh, a UNC student, told the local TV station WTVD.

“We understand that the issue of race and place is both emotional and, for many, painful,” Rick White, UNC Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications and Public Affairs, said in a statement. “We welcome all points of view, but damaging or defacing statues is not the way to go about it."

Silent Sam honors UNC alumni who fought for the Confederacy as well as the 321 students who died in the Civil War.

"As an African-American woman, who is a student here, that statue is the very statue that pretty much says I don't belong here, that I shouldn't be here," Kirsten Adams, another UNC student, told WTVD. "It is a relevant statue, and so it should be there, on the other hand if we keep Silent Sam up, if we keep all these halls named after these racists, it's like we're celebrating the racism so you kind of have to draw a line somewhere."

Madison Simpson, a sophomore political science major at UNC, disagrees.

“I would be very disappointed if universities started removing monuments to Confederate soldiers. If such a process was allowed to continue, we would essentially be trying to erase our own history,” she told Campus Reform.

In 2005, the university built a second statue near Silent Sam which honors the men and women of color, both free and enslaved, who helped build UNC.

According to WXII, a North Carolina TV station, authorities have not made any arrests yet. They are still searching for suspects.

The school’s Saunders Hall, named after UNC grad, Civil War veteran, and later Ku Klux Klan leader William Saunders, was renamed to “Carolina Hall” in May. Following the decision, UNC trustees unanimously voted to put a 16-year block on any other campus building name changes, The News & Observer reports.

Controversy over the Confederate flag has sparked similar building name changes and statue vandalism at other schools. At Yale University, a petition is currently circulating requesting that administrators rename Calhoun College, which honors a Yale alumnus and slavery-system supporter, John C. Calhoun.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BethanySalgado