Local News

UNC preparing for a possible third 'Silent Sam' protest on Saturday

Posted September 7, 2018 10:28 p.m. EDT
Updated September 8, 2018 4:33 a.m. EDT

The monument has been a divisive symbol on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Its toppling was cheered by protesters who called it a tribute to white supremacy.

— The University of North Carolina is preparing for the possibility of yet another protest near the former site of the “Silent Sam” statue on Saturday.

Officials with the Town of Chapel Hill and the university on Friday released statements saying they are preparing for the possibility of demonstrations near McCorkle Place and in the downtown area during the late afternoon hours on Saturday.

UNC officials said they are working closely with police, but are urging students not to attend.

“We do not know for sure what groups may attend, but we are mindful that the current atmosphere is highly charged, and protests that begin peacefully do not always remain that way,” UNC officials said in an email. “For this reason, we urge you not to attend. For those who do attend, please know that we will do all we can to protect and keep everyone safe.”

The “Silent Sam” statue was toppled by protesters on Aug. 20 after being an issue of contention at the university for years.

Since the statue fell, McCorkle Place has been the sight of two additional protests, from those who want the statue to return and those who do not want to see it back on the UNC-CH campus. More than a dozen people have been arrested in connection with the events.

Last Saturday, members of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans group were seen placing flowers around the former statue’s pedestal and members said they planned to return with flowers every Saturday for until the statue returns.

As officials warned students and residents of the rumored Saturday protest, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger issued a statement thanking police for their response to the recent string of protests and their collaboration with UNC police.

“On behalf of the entire Town Council and the town, I want to say ‘thank you’ to Chief Blue and his team for their extraordinary service during two very, very challenging weeks and their commitment to keeping everyone safe,” she said.

Town officials on Friday said there were no plans to close streets or restrict parking in advance of Saturday’s potential demonstrations, but those plans may change.

The “Silent Sam” statue has been in storage since it was toppled and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and the university’s Board of Trustees have until mid-November to present a plan for the future of the statue to the Board of Governors.