Months after students and some faculty members at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill called for the removal of controversial Confederate monument called Silent Sam from the campus, a crowd of protesters actually knocked down the statue from its pedestal on eve of the first day of classes.
Around 250 protesters gathered around the statue that was erected in 1913 to remember the "sons of the University who died for their beloved Southland 1861-1865,” according to the university’s website.
Repeating chants like “Whose Campus? Our Campus!” the students first covered the monument, which many denounced as a symbol of the state’s racist heritage, with poles and banners. However, as the night fell, protesters decided to take matters in their own hands – literally – and used ropes to knock down Silent Sam.
Videos from the scene, which immediately went viral on social media, showed students cheering as the sculpture fell to the ground, with many kicking and throwing dirt at it.
Earlier this year, a second-year PhD student from the university, identified as Maya Little, made headlines for putting red ink and her actual blood on Silent Sam. In November 2017, she told WTVD-TV the UNC had been spending a lot of money on the upkeep of the Confederate monument.
“That is $40,000 to maintain a statue that glorifies the enslavement of my ancestors,” the student said at the time. “That was dedicated by a man who took pleasure in beating a black woman on our campus, that was erected by a group who praised the KKK as protectors of white womanhood.”
Little is now reportedly facing criminal charges and possible expulsion for her actions.
Silent Sam is finally on the ground! in time for the first day of class at UNC.— karina unleashed (@karinasoni) August 21, 2018
But I know some folks who spent their entire Carolina career trying to work with administration to move or contextualize Silent Sam. They did nothing. But students and the Carolina community did!!!! pic.twitter.com/Dk7SLlXBUX
Meanwhile, the university issued statement soon after the statue came down.
“Tonight's actions were dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured. We are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage," it said.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, who had also called for removing controversial symbols from the public land, echoed similar sentiments.
“The Governor understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change and he shares their frustration, but violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities,” his office said in a tweet.
According to UNC spokesperson Kate Luck, one person was arrested following the protest.
“The charges are for concealing one's face during a public rally and resisting arrest,” she told CNN.
As for the statue, it was reportedly put in a dump truck.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Jonathan Drake