Local News

Anonymous group calls for removal of UNC's 'Silent Sam'

Posted February 26, 2018 7:04 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 11:11 a.m. EDT

— An anonymous group told University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt via letter on Monday that, if she does not remove the controversial “Silent Sam” Confederate statue on campus by Thursday, they will remove it themselves.

The group, claiming to be 17 faculty members, sent a copy of a letter to the student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel.

A UNC spokeswoman confirms Folt got the letter but said the university could not verify its authenticity. Neither could the Daily Tar Heel.

Students say the statue, which has been at the center of many protests, puts a damper on campus morale.

"It's just a very sad fact that anyone would be hurt by anything on this campus since we do like to promote acceptance and support for everything," said Meredith Roethling.

Senior Michelle Brown agrees. She stands by the statue for two hours every Monday in protest.

"Because the university promises us a campus free of racial discrimination and racial hostility, and by having this up, they're not fulfilling that promise," she said. "When it's at the front of our university, it shows that this is the thing that we value most. It's trying to send a message to black and brown people."

William Sturkey, a UNC professor who is not behind the letter, said he sees many reasons the statue should go.

"It's just a resource suck on time, energy, money," he said, pointing to the police detail that watches the statue every day.

Students on campus said Monday that they felt rejuvenated by those who tore down the Confederate statue in Durham and then had their charges dropped.

In the past, university leaders said they feel their hands are tied and they can’t take action on Silent Sam. They believe that, because the statue is on public property, its fate is up to the state Historical Commission.