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UNC President, Board of Governors chair: Silent Sam toppling “unacceptable, dangerous, and incomprehensible”

UNC System Board of Governors Chair Harry Smith and UNC System President Margaret Spellings responded Tuesday morning to the toppling of “Silent Sam,” the confederate statue on the Chapel Hill campus.

“We have been in touch with UNC-Chapel Hill Trustee Chair Cochrane and Chancellor Folt both last night and this morning about the removal of the Silent Sam statue on UNC-CH’s campus,” Smith and Spellings said in a joint statement. “Campus leadership is in collaboration with campus police, who are pulling together a timeline of the events, reviewing video evidence, and conducting interviews that will inform a full criminal investigation.”

“The safety and security of our students, faculty, and staff are paramount,” the statement read.”And the actions last evening were unacceptable, dangerous, and incomprehensible. We are a nation of laws—and mob rule and the intentional destruction of public property will not be tolerated.”

The toppling of the statue by protesters came after the UNC Board of Governors last month declined to even discuss petitioning the North Carolina Historical Commission to remove it. The statue has been a source of tension and controversy for more than 50 years, with calls to remove it reaching a fever pitch over the last year.

Chancellor Folt released her own statement early Tuesday via Twitter.

 

Students, faculty, staff and community members who have been part of the movement to remove the statue replied to Folt directly on Twitter.

The Undergraduate Executive Branch of the UNC-Chapel Hill Student Government also released their own statement. In it, student leaders called the toppling of the statue the correction of “a moral and historical wrong that needed to be righted if we were ever to move forward as a University.”

“Last night, they tore down Silent Sam,” the statement said of protesters. “They were right to do so.”

Democratic state legislators took to Twitter to say it was a shame action on the statue had not happened sooner and that legislation filed by Rep. Graig Meyer, Rep. Verla Insko and Rep. Graig Meyer that would have moved it was not given a hearing.


Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger released his own statement calling the protesters a “violent mob” and calling for the reestablishment of the rule of law.

One Comment


  1. Rich Lund

    August 22, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    I will not go into my view regarding the destruction of Silent Sam-I’m sure you’ve heard enough pros and cons already. I do expect, however, that UNC administration and police will conduct a full and comprehensive review and determine the maximum legal charges allowed by the state of North Carolina to get the message across very clearly to all those involved. Longer-term, the UNC System needs to emphasize the attributes of both accountability and tolerance to all within the UNC system. In my opinion, this outrageous act dwarfs all of the recent NCAA violations/controversy and the leaders of UNC need to speak up, loudly, to the UNC students, faculty, and staff so that the appropriate message is clearly understood. Also, I cannot emphasize this enough, any hint of faculty leaning towards the removal of Silent Sam through discussions/communications, etc. in classrooms, on campus, etc. is not to be tolerated and appropriate steps need to be taken so that their views are kept to themselves going forward.
    This atrocious act has given UNC a black eye, not only state-wide, but nationally as well, and that should embarrass every UNC leader. I would hope that a clear message is formulated by UNC leadership and presented at every forum where student and faculty activity is discussed.
    I look forward to a well-versed message and strategy to get this distributed to all involved across the UNC system. Thank you for taking the time and efforts forthcoming in this matter. Take care.

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