Local News

Confederate statue defaced at UNC-CH

Posted July 5, 2015 2:21 p.m. EDT
Updated July 5, 2015 10:23 p.m. EDT

— A Civil War memorial statue at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was found vandalized Sunday morning with the words "black lives matter."

The statue, known as Silent Sam, was erected in 1913 as a monument to 321 alumni who died in the Civil War and students who joined the Confederate Army, according to the university's website.

Vandals used black spray paint to deface the statue, which also had the words "KKK" and "murderer" written on it. No suspects or arrests have been made.

Rick White, the school's associate vice chancellor of Communications and Public Affairs, released the following statement Sunday:

"We understand that the issue of race and place is both emotional and, for many, painful. Carolina is working hard to ensure we have a thoughtful, respectful and inclusive dialogue on the issue," he said. "The extensive discussions with the Carolina community this past year by the Board of Trustees and University leadership, and the work we will be doing to contextualize the history of our campus is a big part of advancing those conversations. We welcome all points of view, but damaging or defacing statues is not the way to go about it."

The graffiti sparked debate among some in the campus community about whether the statue should be removed.

"I agree black lives do matter," student Ishmael Bishop said. "I am excited that there are students or community members who feel the same way I do, that Confederate monuments on our campus (are) offensive."

He said the person or persons responsible for the vandalism chose to make a statement.

"We send emails and we write letters, and sometimes those emails are ignored and sometimes those letters aren't opened,"Bishop said. "This is a statement. This is one way to do it. Property can be cleaned."

Alumnus Kevin Murach said he never paid much attention to the statue when he was on campus.

"I certainly don't endorse people doing graffiti in any capacity because it's defacing public property, which is illegal," he said. "But I suppose I can appreciate that people are frustrated by a statue that's commemorating something related to the confederacy."

Xavier Robertson, who interns at the school, said he sees the tagging as a "really deep message."

"I just feel like it's a slap in the face," he said of the statue. "I definitely would like, for one, for people to know who this guy was, and then, two, for the statue to be removed."

Last week, a monument in Maplewood Cemetery in Durham honoring local Confederate soldiers was similarly vandalized.

"Black Lives Matter" and "Tear It Down" were spray-painted on the granite marker, which was put up in May to honor all veterans who fought for the Confederacy in the Orange County area during the Civil War.