Almost a year to the day after a Durham, NC statue honoring Confederate soldiers was torn down by protesters, another racist monument bites the dust. Silent Sam—a Confederate monument on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill that became a flash point after the Charlottesville protests last year—was torn down tonight by protesters.
The protest that toppled Sam lasted for hours. Initially protestors covered the statue with grey banners that read “Dedicated to those who fight against the white supremacy that UNC upholds.” Early on, a skirmish broke out among the protesters and police when someone set off a smoke bomb, leading to one arrest.
The protest began as an act in solidarity with UNC graduate student Maya Little, who is facing criminal charges and expulsion for throwing paint and her own blood on the statue earlier this year.
“It’s time to build monuments to honor those who have been murdered by white supremacy,” Little told the crowd during today’s protest, according to The News & Observer. “It’s time to tear down Silent Sam. It’s time to tear down UNC’s institutional white supremacy.”
Removing Confederate statues in North Carolina is not easy. A state law passed in 2015 makes it impossible for local governments to decide what to do with the monuments in their own communities. Instead, they must seek approval from the State Historical Commission, though many Confederate statues are less than a century old. North Carolina Democrats tried in May to pass a bill that would have allowed UNC to move Silent Sam indoors, but the legislation failed.
No one has yet been arrested for toppling the statue. When protestors in Durham last year knocked down a Confederate statue, the charges against them were eventually dropped. The judge in the case acquitted on defendant and dismissed charges against the others.