Three arrested as ‘Silent Sam’ supporters, opponents gather at UNC
About 300 people were part of dueling demonstrations surrounding the former site of the Confederate statue “Silent Sam” on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus Thursday night.
Police prepared for violence, but the groups -- one against “Silent Sam” and a group from Alamance County that wants to see the statue put back on its pedestal -- remained fairly peaceful.
The demonstrations began at about 7:30 p.m., as a group of people opposed to “Silent Sam” held a “dance party.”
“It’s a spin on what people might think an anti-protest is,” one participant said.
Shortly after 8 p.m., a group of more than two dozen people carrying signs that said “save our monument, preserve our history” arrived. Others were seen carrying Confederate flags.
Police kept the two groups separate, but people could be heard yelling “put it back, we’ll take it down,” and “go home Nazis.”
As of 10 p.m., there were three arrests reported. Two arrests for affray and a third arrest for resisting an officer, officials with UNC said.
No one was injured during Thursday’s protest.
A single deployment pepper fogger was used by law enforcement near the Morehead Planetarium parking lot to maintain order, according to officials at UNC.
As the crowds began dispersing, one “Silent Sam” supporter was escorted into a building by police, but officers said it was for his own safety.
“The idea that the university thinks that ’Silent Sam needs to be replaced is absurd and just speaks to racism,” said a Chapel Hill resident.
The UNC Board of Governors gave Chancellor Carol Folt and the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees until Nov. 15 to devise a plan for the fate of “Silent Sam.” Since it was toppled Aug. 20, the statue has been in storage.
Hundreds of alumni and faculty members have signed petitions to keep the statue down, and members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership sent a letter to Folt Thursday to join the cause. The two business groups said putting “Silent Sam” back up endangers people’s safety, costs local businesses money because they have to shut down before protests and damages Chapel Hill’s reputation.
Before Thursday, UNC-Chapel Hill Police had made 14 arrests in teh last two weeks related to the conflict.