Last week, as Policy Watch reported, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed to intervene in the legal settlement in which the UNC System gave the Silent Sam Confederate monument to the North Carolina division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans – along with $2.5 million.
Today, UNC Board of Governors Chairman Randy Ramsey criticized the group’s move.
“It’s irresponsible that the LCCRUL organization is working so hard to return Silent Sam to UNC-Chapel Hill, putting the safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors at risk,” Ramsey said in a written statement Monday. “Law enforcement experts have made it crystal clear: returning the monument to campus would pose serious public safety risks to students, faculty and staff. The lawful settlement approved by the court ensures the monument never returns to any county where a UNC System institution is located, and the UNC System and the Board will continue to defend solutions that protect public safety.“
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has made no statements suggesting the monument should be returned to the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.
The group represents a group of six UNC-Chapel Hill students and one faculty member who oppose the statue’s return to campus — but also want to prevent he university from giving millions of dollars to a group like the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“The University of North Carolina System has abdicated its responsibilities under its mission to the students, faculty, the University community and the people of North Carolina by striking this deal with a neo-Confederate group,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in a statement last week. “We stand with the students and faculty in condemning this deeply flawed settlement that finds the UNC system complicit in financing white supremacist activity.”
Clarke’s group is representing members of the UNC-Chape Hill community who have been vocal in their opposition to the monument’s place on campus since before it was toppled by protesters last year.
“The Board of Governors’ secret negotiations, lack of transparency and false statements to the court, UNC students and the public is unacceptable,” said De’Ivyion Drew, a Sophomore at UNC-CH and one of the intervenors, in a statement. “These actions violate the Board of Governor’s duties to me as a student of this university and undermine UNC’s mission. The University’s agreement to give 2.5 million dollars to the Sons of Confederate Veterans will help that group and other neo-confederates continue to perpetuate the ahistorical and dangerous “Lost Cause” ideology. That ideology is a major obstacle to racial equity and reparative measures in our country.”
Ramsey’s statement comes the same day five members of the UNC Board of Governors published an op-ed piece justifying the settlement in the News & Observer.
The board and its members have not taken questions from the public or media about the settlement and, as of Monday, have not responded to public information requests for documents related to the settlement — including the trust agreement board members have repeatedly cited in arguments over the merits of the settlement.
Several members of the board itself have questioned details of the settlement and pushed for the UNC System and the board to be more transparent about he way in which it was reached.