“Silent Sam,” a monument dedicated to fallen Civil War-era soldiers that stood at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, campus, has been a source of controversy for over 50 years. Last night, it was toppled by a group of protestors.
Calls for the monument’s removal had intensified in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville rally last year, but university officials maintained that a state law designed to protect memorials and works of art owned by the state prohibited its removal. As protests grew louder, according to The News & Observer, the university spent $390,000 on security for the statue in the last year. On Monday, protestors took matters into their own hands. In an NBC video, the crowd erupts into cheers when the statue hits the ground.
After the statue fell, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt issued a statement, acknowledging that “the monument has been divisive for years, and its presence has been a source of frustration for many people.” However, she also condemned the protesters’ actions as “unlawful and dangerous.”
Protestors don’t seem to mind the public chiding. “I feel liberated–like I’m a part of something big. It’s literally my fourth day here,” first-year Natalia Walker told The Daily Tar Heel. “This is the biggest thing I’ve ever been a part of in my life.”
— Ryan Michaels (@RyMiko) August 21, 2018