Student vandals have toppled “Silent Sam,” a memorial to Confederate dead at the University of North Carolina. Hundreds of angry protesters removed the statue Monday night because they believe it to be a symbol of North Carolina’s slave-holding history.
As Fox News reports, the vandalism began with a rally at UNC at 7 p.m., where speakers decried the continued presence of the monument. Then, at about 9 p.m., a crowd erupted in anger and pushed over the statue. The demonstrators began to kick the symbol of the Confederacy while they cheered.
After completing their destruction, some of the students remained behind, chanting, “Tar Heels,” which, ironically, was a phrase used to describe the heroism of North Carolina troops who served in the Confederate States Army of 1861–65, because they rarely retreated.
Other students yelled, “Whose campus? Our campus.”
The statue, like many still standing in the South, was a target of controversy for years with proponents arguing it honored those who died fighting in the Civil War and opponents who said it was nothing more than a symbol of racism.
Freshman Manuel Ricardo called the student’s unauthorized action “pretty breathtaking” and told Fox, “I think most people here are happy. I’m ecstatic.”
But junior Ian Goodson was conflicted.
He called the statue coming down “a significant event for UNC” but said he was “always kind of torn” about its presence at the university.