Once again, UNC says it doesn’t have authority to remove ‘Silent Sam’

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – The UNC Board of Trustees released a statement Friday saying again they do not have he authority to remove the on-campus Confederate monument known as “Silent Sam.”

Friday’s announcement comes amid a back and forth between Gov. Roy Cooper and the University about whether or not the school has the authority to remove the monument.

Cooper has said more than once UNC can remove the statue despite a 2015 North Carolina law.

The law protects Confederate monuments from local authorities taking them down without the approval of the North Carolina Historical Commission.

“Our Office of University Counsel and UNC General Administration have advised Chancellor Carol L. Folt that the University does not have the legal authority to move the monument, and the Board agrees with that interpretation of the law, North Carolina General Statute 100-2.1,” the Board of Trustees said in a release.

Louis Bissette Jr., chair of the UNC Board of Governors, reiterate the Board of Trustees statement, saying they can not relocate the monument.

On Wednesday, Cooper said “I think the law is broader than that. I think the University does have the authority to make the decision to move it, if it believes that it is…creates a dangerous condition to public safety.”

The Board of Trustees said it still fully supports UNC Chancellor Carol Folt in her “unwavering commitment to the safety of our campus community and the long tradition of open and respectful debate on our campus.”

Hundreds rallied at Silent Sam Tuesday night in an effort to have the monument removed. Three people were arrested during the demonstration, including a 19-year-old UNC student.

The monument also came under fire recently in 2015 following the Charleston church shooting and Sandra Bland’s death.

According to UNC’s website, the North Carolina division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned the memorial in 1913 to honor the 321 UNC alumni who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

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