Protesters march at UNC in opposition of chancellor’s plan for ‘Silent Sam’

Orange County News
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Another round of protests over “Silent Sam” took place Monday on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The demonstrations come after Chancellor Carol Folt announced her recommendation earlier Monday that the Confederate monument be housed in a new on-campus facility being build. It had been at McCorkle Place on campus for over 100 years until protesters tore it down on Aug. 20.

Protesters marched throughout campus and the surrounding areas. Chapel Hill transit director Brian Litchfield tweeted about the traffic impacts it had around the Chapel Hill area. He said transit services were experiencing delays downtown that “will continue until further notice.”

Demonstrations began as a crowd gathered at Peace and Justice Plaza around 7 p.m. Protesters moved to McCorkle Place, where the pedestal for “Silent Sam” still stands. Barricades were set up and police officers were standing inside them to guard the pedestal.

“We call upon our university administrators, the board of trustees, UNC system leaders, and state officials to find an alternative plan for the statue,” said Black Student Movement president Qieara Lesesne.

The protests became rowdy at McCorkle Place as some tried to move the barricades. That prompted more officers, including some in helmets, to arrive to backup those already on site.

The demonstrations ended after protesters marched to the South Building on UNC’s campus. 

UNC said its preference was to move the statue off campus, but they’re bound by a state law that requires them to put the statue back in a similar location. Because of that, the school says it plans to spend $5.3 million on a new development in “Odum Village” where the statue will be housed.

“There are many different ways we can learn from our history that don’t include spending $5.3 million on this new building plan,” junior Tamia Sanders said.

The school spent more than $400,000 on security for Silent Sam last year.

The new building is expected to be finished by mid-2022 and will cost more than $800,000 per year to operate, officials said.

Regardless of what options are announced, the UNC Board of Governors is expected to make its final decision on the future of Silent Sam during their Dec. 14 meeting.

Protest organizer Maya Little said Monday night that student fees would go to “housing and protecting white supremacy” if the plan is approved. UNC hasn’t said where funding will come from.

The protests wrapped up before 9 p.m.

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