Arrests Made After Small, Heated Protests On UNC Campus

Aug 25, 2018

A cyclist looks on as pro-Silent Sam protesters with a Confederate flag leave the scene in Chapel Hill.
Credit Laura Pellicer / WUNC

Police arrested seven people on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill Saturday, as counter-protestors clashed with men carrying Confederate battle flags and other signs. This came five days after the Silent Sam statue was brought down on campus.

Barry Brown, John Quick, and Danielle Shochet were charged with assault. Alexander Joustra and Lillian Laura Price were charged with damage to property. Kristin Emory was charged with resisting arrest and Thomas Bruefach was charged with inciting a public disturbance. 

Events began Saturday morning, when several individuals stood near the Silent Sam site, carrying Confederate flags and signs.

“Just standing up for what I believe in,” said Mike, who brandished a Confederate battle flag. He would not tell WUNC his last name. “Just trying to educate people. They can talk about how this is about hate, but it’s not about hate. This is not white supremacy, this is history.” 

A nearby protestor pointed out that “Mike” also had an SS tattoo on his neck, which he said was "from his past," and he had not removed it. He and other protesters argued and debated non-violently for about an hour during a calm among the crowd after police made several arrests earlier in the morning.

Man who identified himself to WUNC only as Mike carries a Confederate flag and engages with counter-protesters at the UNC-Chapel Hill near the base of the missing Silent Sam Confederate statue.
Credit Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

On Friday, UNC officials sent a campus-wide notice saying they were aware of social media posts that indicated protests might be planned.

“We do not know for sure what groups may attend, but we are mindful that the current atmosphere is highly charged, and protests that begin peacefully do not always remain that way,” the statement read. “For this reason, we urge you not to attend. For those who do attend, please know that we will do all we can to protect and keep everyone safe.”

On Monday night, a group within a crowd of 200-300 protestors pulled Silent Sam off its pedestal with ropes. The statue had stood in McCorkle Place on campus since 1913. UNC police have issued arrest warrants for three people: Jonathan Fitzgerald Fuller, 27; Lauren Aucoin, 23; and Raul Arce, 27.

“This movement has been 50 years in the making,” Maya Little, a doctoral student in history at UNC, told WUNC’s The State of Things. Little was arrested earlier this year for smearing red paint and her own blood on the statue. “There've been so many protests of students —black student activists, workers and community members — against this statue and against white supremacy at UNC. And the administration has never responded.”

UNC Board of Governor members, including Thom Goolsby, say a 2015 law passed by the General Assembly dictates that Silent Sam be returned to its pedestal within 90 days.

“I will just continue to mark the days,” said Goolsby. “I'll continue to work hard to see that the laws of North Carolina are enforced as per my oath of office.”

UNC administrators have not announced what they intend to do with Silent Sam. In a conference call on Saturday after the protest, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt gave her opinion what should be done with the statue.

"In the interest of public safety, I would find a better location, a safe, secure location for the monument," she said. "If I could do that, that is what I still believe is necessary."

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