News

UNC Police officer went undercover to gather information on “Silent Sam” protests

Last week, a group of students and faculty protesting the “Silent Sam” Confederate statue on UNC’s Chapel Hill campus told the UNC Board of Governors they have endured mocking, racial slurs and threats as they demonstrate in front of the statue.

In and around the same time they were speaking to the board, they also faced a new and much stranger challenge: a UNC Police officer who has apparently been gathering information on the protesters and their movement without identifying himself and using an assumed name.

In the videos below a few demonstrators confront the officer. He evades their questions, is nervous about being videotaped in a public place, tries to get them to talk to him at the police sub-station and ultimately justifies his actions by saying “it’s called police work.”

 

Demonstrators said the officer – who eventually identified himself to them as Officer Hector Borges – came to them as someone who also opposed the statue, telling them an elaborate story about being a veteran with post traumatic stress disorder named “Victor.”

UNC Police Media Relations Director Randy Young provided the following statement to Policy Watch:

“The UNC Police department is aware of the recorded conversation between a UNC Police officer and a members of the public recently. While we don’t discuss specific details of operation, UNC Police has assigned officers to the area around Silent Sam, both in uniform and in plain clothes, ever since the Charlottesville incident with the sole purpose of maintaining student and public safety.”

Young said he could not elaborate on that prepared statement.

In a public comment section of Friday afternoon UNC Board of Governors meeting, UNC student Maya Little told board members Borges solicited personal information from students and tried to ingratiate himself with them before they saw him in uniform on campus and uncovered his deception. Little said it is particularly ironic that UNC Police would devote and undercover officer to this kind of work when students are simply exercising the First Amendment rights the board says it is attempting to protect with a new campus speech policy.

Several other faculty, staff and students said the incident seems to confirm that not all speech will be treated equally under the policy.

“Essentially, a police officer from the department that we pay our student fees and tuition to was hired to spy on us – to spy on students – in what I assume was an effort to protect this racist statue on the forefront of our campus,” Little said. “As a student at this university, as a worker, as a community member, I am deeply disturbed not only by the alumni and Carolina fans who harass us but also by the campus police officers who are hired by the University to do so.”

Check Also

New Elon Poll looks at NC views on opioid crisis

If you’ve followed NC Policy Watch’s ongoing coverage ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

A pivotal legislative task force may be just beginning its dive into North Carolina’s school funding [...]

The controversy over “Silent Sam,” the Confederate monument on UNC’s Chapel Hill campus, has been ra [...]

North Carolina tries to mine its swine and deal with a poop problem that keeps piling up A blanket o [...]

This story is part of "Peak Pig," an examination of the hog industry co-published with Env [...]

With Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the White House desperate to post a big legislative win, the [...]

Latest court system mess is directly linked to the Right’s ideological war on public structures Some [...]

Republicans in Congress are rushing to advance a tax reform bill that balloons the federal deficit s [...]

The post Charitable donations and the GOP’s chopping block appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

Spotlight on Journalism

We invite you to join a special celebration of investigative journalism! The evening will feature Mike Rezendes, a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe Spotlight Team known for their coverage of the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Tickets available NOW!

Spotlight On Journalism

This event will benefit NC Policy Watch, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center. Sponsorship opportunities available now!

Featured | Special Projects

NC Budget 2017
The maze of the NC Budget is complex. Follow the stories to follow the money.
Read more


NC Redistricting 2017
New map, new districts, new lawmakers. Here’s what you need to know about gerrymandering in NC.
Read more