UNC’s “Silent Sam” Confederate statue has been torn down by protesters during a tense demonstration in solidarity with UNC graduate student Maya Little, who faces criminal charges for throwing red ink and blood on the Confederate statue in April, according to News & Observer.
Protesters can be seen tearing the statue down in several videos posted on Twitter. Among videos of the protest are intense moments between police and protesters as well, shortly before activists attacked the statue.
The monument came down after 9:15 p.m. Monday, according to News & Observer. Earlier in the evening, protesters covered the statue with gray banners, erecting “an alternative monument” that represented a “world without white supremacy.”
One protester threw a smoke grenade into the crowd, and police chased one protester and arrested another for resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer. You can view the videos of the confrontations below. The unidentified man who was arrested may also face another charge of wearing a mask to a rally, a UNC police spokesman told News & Observer.
Pictures and videos flooded social media, with protesters proud to show off their success at removing the statue. The crowd quickly took control of the area surrounding the statue, hoisting four tall banners in a square that almost completely covered it. One banner said, “The whole world is watching. Which side are you on?”
Last summer, protesters set to rally on campus for the removal of the controversial Confederate memorial. UNC-Chapel Hill also got North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s approval to take the statue down. However, UNC announced it would keep the statue up for the time being, where it remained until today.
Silent Sam was erected in 1913, and has a plaque stating that it honors students who left school to go fight for the Confederacy. It has, in recent years, been the focus of protesters who call it a monument to white supremacy.
During protest speeches, many speakers mentioned Silent Sam’s connection to a time in history that should no longer be commemorated or proudly displayed for all to see.
Maya Little, the doctoral history student who doused the statue with ink and her own blood in April, took the microphone and spoke of a black man, James Lewis Cates, who was stabbed by a white motorcycle gang on the UNC campus in the early 1970s, according to News & Observer.
“It’s time to build monuments to honor those who have been murdered by white supremacy,” Little said, adding, “It’s time to tear down Silent Sam. It’s time to tear down UNC’s institutional white supremacy.”
”This noose is symbolic of a burden. A burden of a history we all share but only some of us are forced to carry. The statue is an ever-present reminder of who this University is truly for,” one speaker said.
“I want to encourage other white people to do anti-racist work. We must make a place in our lives for the struggle. Let’s not be allies and instead be supportive accomplices,” another speaker told the crowd.
PhD candidate Jerry Wilson announced that he would wear a noose around his neck until the statue was removed “From this day until the day that the Confederate monument known as #SilentSam is removed from campus, I intend to wear a noose around my neck while on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”
You can read the full statement below.