CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – The Silent Sam memorial statue on the University of North Carolina’s campus in Chapel Hill has been vandalized again.
The statue of a Confederate soldier was spray-painted with the phrase “Who is Sandra Bland?” sometime between late Monday night and the start of classes Tuesday morning, The Daily Tar Heel reported.
Crews were able to removed the vandalism by noon Tuesday.
This is the second time since July that the statue has been vandalized. Someone previously spray-painted “Black lives matter,” “KKK” and “murderer” on the memorial on July 5.
Tuesday morning’s graffiti refers to Sandra Bland, a black woman who was found dead in police custody in Texas on July 13.
One UNC sophomore defended the graffiti on the statue.
“I think it’s appropriate and I think it’s about time our voices are heard,” said second year student, Michelle Brown.
“As a student I should feel that all of my community members should feel equal and welcome on this campus because this is a place we call our home. Things like this belong in a museum, not in the center of campus where it’s supposed to be inclusive.”
Another Carolina student, Chris Register, said, “I think if we want to remember history we need to recognize the parts of history that we want to embrace. And I don’t think we want to embrace the soldiers that fought for slavery,”
But another UNC student, senior Samantha Sharp, said of the spray-painting of Silent Sam, “Seeing all the vandalism and then renaming that one building, I mean it makes me ashamed to be a UNC student.”
According to UNC’s website, the North Carolina division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned the memorial in 1913 to honor the 321 UNC alumni who died fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
The UNC website notes that Silent Sam is a statue of a soldier carrying a rifle, but he has no cartridge box with ammunition and is thus silent. But the longtime campus joke at Carolina is that the soldier fires a shot every time a virgin walks by – and thus, never fires.
In a statement Tuesday, UNC said, “Over the past few days, hundreds of faculty, staff and members of the Carolina community have come together to welcome first-year and returning students. This is what Carolina is all about, and this includes our commitment to free speech and open dialogue on all issues, no matter how emotional and at times painful.
“Vandalism like this is unfortunate because it is the antithesis of open discussion and the traditions and principles for which the University stands.”
‘Black lives matter’ painted on UNC’s ‘Silent Sam’