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USA: Protesters topple Confederate statue on university campus

31 August 2018
About 250 protesters knocked over a controversial Confederate soldier statue known as Silent Sam at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Silent Sam statue / Wikimedia Commons

 

About 250 protesters knocked over a controversial Confederate soldier statue known as Silent Sam at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on 20 August 2018, reported CNN.

According to South Carolina newspaper The State, four people will face court “on misdemeanour charges of rioting and defacing a pubic monument”.

Video footage from the night shows protesters celebrating as the 105-year-old statue comes down. Erected in memorial of “the sons of the University who died for their beloved Southland 1861-1865”, according to UNC Graduate School, the statue has been divisive for years.

In October 2017 the UNC School of Law faculty called for the removal of Silent Sam. In a statement, staff members said the monument is “a symbol of white supremacy, violence and indignity” that “has no place at the core of an inclusive learning environment”.

On 21 August 2018, UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L Folt said that while the statue has been a source of frustration for many people, the way it was brought down was “unlawful and dangerous”.

“We are very fortunate that no one was injured,” she said.

UNC System Board Chair Harry Smith and UNC System President Margaret Spellings said in a joint statement the actions were “unacceptable, dangerous, and incomprehensible”.

“We are a nation of laws—and mob rule and the intentional destruction of public property will not be tolerated,” they said.

Campus police are conducting a full criminal investigation, they said.

On 30 August it was revealed crowd control police officers were directed to stand back and give protesters space before the statue fell, according to local news site WRAL.com

The toppling of Silent Sam is the latest in a string of Confederate monuments to be taken down or removed following protests.

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