Congressman joins calls to remove UNC’s Silent Sam

Silent Sam statue on UNC's campus (Michael Hyland/CBS North Carolina)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Democratic North Carolina Congressman David Price has joined calls for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to take down its Confederate monument, Silent Sam.

Price, North Carolina’s 4th District congressman, said the statue belongs in a museum.

“We can’t choose our history,” said Price. “But we certainly can choose the history that we honor.”

Price is a UNC alumnus, and his district includes the university.

He is aware there is a debate not only about whether Silent Sam should come down, but also about if can it come down under current state law.

In 2015, the General Assembly passed a law that restricted local governments from removing the monuments without the approval of the North Carolina Historical Commission.

But Gov. Roy Cooper advised UNC there is a part of the law that allows for statues to be removed if there is a risk to public safety.

“Repeal this law,” said Price. “It is not appropriate. It is not in the best interest of North Carolina communities to have the legislature take it unto itself these decisions.”

Last week, CBS North Carolina talked with Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, (R – Rockingham County), about the law.

“The law is in place,” he said. “I think the law should be followed.”

UNC Board of Governors Chairman Lou Bissette said the board has discussed the law at length with its attorneys.

“We talked about it with the governor’s attorneys,” he said. “We’ve talked about it with the legislature’s attorneys. We’ve concluded that, as a university, we do not have the authority to remove that statue.”

The UNC Board of Trustees has said it is continuing to discuss its legal options with the UNC Board of Governors.


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