‘Self-proclaimed communists and anarchists were given free reign by a willfully helpless police force to complete their destruction…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) In a scene reminiscent of the liberation of Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad or the execution of Moamar Gaddafi in Libya (GRAPHIC IMAGE WARNING), mob rule took over the University of North Carolina’s Chapel Hill campus Monday to topple the oppressive presence of “Silent Sam.”
Silent Sam is down pic.twitter.com/mUqf7NkS0A
— Samee Siddiqui (@ssiddiqui83) August 21, 2018
An estimated 250 people converged on UNC’s upper quad to tear down the Confederate monument around 9:15 p.m. after extensive protesting and rioting in the streets.
“Many of the wounds of racial injustice that still exist in our state and country were created by violent mobs and I can say with certainty that violent mobs won’t heal those wounds,” said state Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, a Republican.
“Only a civil society that adheres to the rule of law can heal these wounds and politicians – from the Governor down to the local District Attorney – must start that process by ending the deceitful mischaracterization of violent riots as ‘rallies’ and reestablishing the rule of law in each of our state’s cities and counties.”
The bronze statue of a Southern soldier was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1913 to commemorate the school’s alumni who had served during the Civil War.
The “silent” part of the name reportedly came from the fact that no cartridge was included on the soldier’s belt.
Although the “silent sentinel” figure initially was a symbol of nonviolence and reconciliation, embraced by movements such as the suffragetes of the early 20th century, Sam’s continuing presence had become a point of contention in recent years, as efforts to tear down Confederate monuments in places like Charlottesville, Virginia helped spur extremism on both sides.
Protests of Silent Sam followed last year’s violent clashes in Charlottesville, followed by threats of a lawsuit.
By law, though, only the North Carolina Historical Commission had the authority to remove the statue, and not the university.
In nearby Durham last August, protesters similarly took down a Confederate statue outside the old county courthouse.
Several of those responsible for the Durham protest were charged with crimes including felony counts of inciting a riot and destruction of property over $1,500.
The district attorney prosecuting the case later dropped the charges after a judge acquitted one defendant.
Raleigh’s News & Observer reported the protest on Monday – the day before classes were set to commence – began as a rally in solidarity with a UNC graduate student who faced charges for vandalizing the statue with red ink and blood in April.
However, footage of the event appeared to show a premeditated and coordinated effort, which included covering the statue with gray banners supported by bamboo poles prior to removal.
After the toppling, one demonstrator placed a black hat on the statue with the words “Do it like Durham” as others stomped on the figure.
Some of those present wore Carolina blue bandanas over their faces with the words “Sam must fall.”
As one large group of protesters drew the attention of police who were guarding the statue, including throwing smoke bombs and engaging aggressively with onlookers, a smaller group remained at the statue.
A tweet from UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, while acknowledging the frustration within the community, condemned the act as “unlawful and dangerous”:
— UNC-Chapel Hill (@UNC) August 21, 2018
The North Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans also responded with a statement, expressing their “disgust and outrage regarding the celebration of anarchy that the world witnessed in Chapel Hill.”
The SCV said news footage confirmed that the same defendants responsible for the toppling of the Durham statue “were once again at the forefront.”
It faulted police for inaction, despite ongoing requests for protection. “This same group of self-proclaimed communists and anarchists were given free reign by a willfully helpless police force to complete their destruction.”
The Workers World Party, a pro-Marxist organization that had ties with the Durham protest, issued posts on its social media accounts celebrating the statue’s toppling but did not claim any involvement with the act.