DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — On Wednesday morning, a judge tossed out a controversial multi-million dollar deal the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors made with the Sons of Confederate Veterans regarding the future placement of the Silent Sam statue.
As CBS 17 previously reported, the Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a lawsuit against UNC for removing the statue from campus.
In November 2019, the UNC Board of Governors decided to give the statue to the Sons of Confederate Veterans along with a $2.5 million deal that would go to preserve the statue and keep it off-campus.
But on Wednesday, the judge found that the Sons of Confederate Veterans had no standing to file that lawsuit to begin with.
“They had no injury, in the fact they were not hurt by the removal of the monument,” said Elizabeth Haddix, an attorney with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights.
The decision by the judge means the entire deal has been tossed out and the statue will be returned back to the UNC Board of Governors.
Under the Monument Protection Law, the statue could have to be put back up, unless if UNC finds it could be a risk to the safety of the public.
Student activists said they are glad that the judge tossed out the $2.5 million deal.
“Overall I am happy with the decision because I didn’t want to see $2.5 million in the hands of white supremacist groups,” said Lindsay Ayling, a UNC student activist. “But I do think the officials who made the deal have to be held accountable.”
Ayling told CBS 17 if the statue goes back up, they are just going to take it right back down.
The UNC Board of Governors would not say yet what they plan to do with the statue, but they sent the following statement:
“While this was not the result we had hoped for, we respect the Court’s ruling in this case. Judge Baddour gave us a fair hearing, and he afforded all parties the necessary time and consideration to be heard. The Board of Governors knew from the very beginning that this was a difficult but needed solution to meet all their goals to protect public safety of the University community, restore normality to campus, and be compliant with the Monuments Law. The Board of Governors will move forward with these three goals at the forefront and will go back to work to find a lasting and lawful solution to the dispute over the monument. We appreciate Judge Baddour’s consideration in this case and we respect his decision in this matter.”UNC Board of Governors
CBS 17 also reached out to the attorney for the Sons of Confederate Veterans for a comment. The attorney would not talk on camera, but he said the SCV is disappointed in the judge’s decision. The attorney said right now they do not know if they will file an appeal.