Rally to remove UNC’s ‘Silent Sam’ has University leaders’ attention

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Those who want a Confederate monument on UNC’s campus removed rallied as expected near the statue Tuesday evening.

UPDATE: 3 arrested as hundreds protest on UNC campus against Confederate statue

The monument, known as “Silent Sam,” is located on the northern part of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill campus. 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.

RELATED: Cooper to UNC: ‘Take immediate measures’ on Silent Sam if there’s ‘a real threat to public safety’

Barricades were set up ahead of time around the monument as university leaders believe Tuesday evening’s demonstration could attract a large crowd.

On Monday afternoon, Chapel Hill Police said they have the support of a dozen outside agencies and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol has about 100 troopers ready.

Just after 5:30 p.m., zip ties were handed out to officers within the barricade.

Leaders, both from UNC and the UNC System, wrote Gov. Roy Cooper advising that depending on who shows up, there is the possibility of confrontation they are concerned that a student or bystander could be seriously injured.

CBS North Carolina spoke with a UNC history professor who says he believes the statue should come down.

“Based on the fact that we have people living and working on this campus and the magnet that that monument is for groups of all sides, I think yeah it absolutely should come down,” said William Sturkey, history assistant professor.

Chapel Hill police said officers are ready and available to step in and help UNC campus police deal with the situation should it be warranted Tuesday.

Cooper said UNC administrators have the authority to remove the statue if they believe it is causing a threat to public safety. But UNC said Tuesday it still does not have the authority to remove the statue despite Coopers’ statement.

UNC released the following statement about the removal of the monument:

Despite how it is being interpreted in the media, the University has not been given the clear legal authority to act unilaterally. Governor Cooper cites a provision where removal would be permitted if a “building inspector” concludes that physical disrepair of a statue threatens public safety, a situation not present here. The University is now caught between conflicting legal interpretations of the statute from the Governor and other legal experts.

Based on law enforcement agencies’ assessments, we continue to believe that removing the Confederate Monument is in the best interest of the safety of our campus, but the university can act only in accordance with the laws of the state of North Carolina. As we continue to seek clear guidance and legal authority to act, we ask for your patience and cooperation to help us maintain as safe an environment as we possibly can. Your safety and the safety of our community will always be our first priority.

The statue was defaced multiple times in 2015 in the wake of the Charleston church shooting and Sandra Bland’s death.

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