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As “Silent Sam” plan looms, protesters clash at UNC

The UNC Board of Governors is expected to hear a new plan for the fate of the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument at its meeting May 21-22.

The statue, toppled last August by protesters, has become a major focal point in campus-wide struggles over racism, history and power at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Over the weekend, another clash between anti-racist and Neo-Confederate protesters underlined ongoing tensions between protesters and police and made it clear conflicts over the statue’s potential return to campus aren’t going away.

In a series of tweets, students recounted confrontations with armed pro-Confederate protesters, at least one of whom has been charged in connection with the vandalism of the Unsung Founders memorial, which honors the slaves who built the campus.

No arrests were made, but at least one pro-Confederate protester who brought a gun was asked to leave and returned without it. Student protesters say that sort of polite treatment has emboldened white supremacists on and around campus.

Student journalists from the Daily Tarheel captured video of police talking with armed pro-Confederate protesters.

They also captured video of students chanting “More dead cops!”

Citing violence and threats of violence toward police officers at protests, the UNC Board of Governors has for months been considering the creation of a “mobile force platoon” to deal with protests at various UNC campuses.

Interim UNC System President Bill Roper and Interim UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz are both on record saying they oppose the statue’s return to the Chapel Hill campus. Security experts commissioned by the school have warned that its return poses a high risk of “violence, civil disorder and property damage.”

Still, a number of members of the Board of Governors continue to insist the statue must return.

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