Judge denies civil rights group’s motion to intervene in $2.5M ‘Silent Sam’ deal

Orange County News

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) — On Friday, a judge denied a motion filed by a civil rights group to intervene in the $2.5 million deal between the UNC Board of Governors and the Sons of Confederate Veterans regarding the controversial so-called “Silent Sam” statue.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed the motion in Orange County Superior Court last week in an effort to stop the deal from happening.

Six UNC-Chapel Hill students are listed as plaintiffs on the motion.

In court on Friday, the attorneys for the civil rights group called the $2.5 million settlement a slap in the face and said it has created a hostile learning environment for students at UNC.

But the UNC System’s attorneys argued the settlement was the best way to protect public safety on campus. Their attorney argued UNC had two choices, which meant they could either leave the Confederate statue where it was, or pay the money to get rid of it.

After two hours of the attorneys making their cases, the judge decided to deny civil rights groups’ motion to intervene.

The judge said the plaintiffs lacked standing to intervene.

Some UNC students who are plaintiffs in the motion said they were disappointed by the judge’s decision.

“I found it really disconcerting to watch them (UNC) kind of hobnob with a white supremacist organization today,” said Elisabeth Jones, a UNC student and one of the plaintiffs in the case.

However, UNC students told CBS 17 they are not backing down.

“The decision to deny our right as students to intervene into (and) fight for the university that we know that we deserve, we know we still have that right and we are still fighting for that,” said De’Ivyion Drew, a UNC student and plaintiff.

The UNC system sent the following statement in response to the judge’s decision in the case:

“We agree with the court’s ruling today that the individuals seeking to intervene in the case and set aside the settlement agreement lacked standing to do so. The UNC System remains committed to protecting public safety and to ensuring that the monument does not return to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. We stand ready to provide additional information as requested by the court.”

The civil rights group did ask for an amicus briefing to be held where they can further discuss the plaintiff’s standing in the case.

That briefing is expected to held in the next 30 days, but no word on if it will be open to the public.     

There also is no word on if the civil rights group plans to appeal the judge’s decision to deny the motion.    

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