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Silent Sam Supporters, Opponents Face Off At Latest Protest

New Confederate States of America members pray at the fallen Silent Sam statue as protesters continue to chant against them on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018.
Naomi Prioleau
New Confederate States of America members pray at the fallen Silent Sam statue as protesters continue to chant against them on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018.

Updated 9:30 p.m. | Sept. 8, 2018

A protest of the Confederate-era monument known as Silent Sam on the University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill campus led to injuries and the arrest of some protesters Saturday afternoon.

Protesters met near the statue site for a potluck and canned food drive. Arguments began as police set up four designated spots to collect the canned goods. Protesters said they didn't trust the police to give them back after the event was over.

Soon after, monument supporters with the New Confederate States of America showed up to hold a prayer vigil at the Silent Sam site. They were escorted into the barricaded area and proudly displayed the Confederate flag. Chants like "Tarheels brought this statue down, anti-racists run this town" were said to members of the Confederate group. Meanwhile, the members of the Confederate group chanted "Learn your history" in return.

After the prayer vigil was over, arguments between the police and protesters began. Some protesters argued why the police were protecting Neo-Nazis. Others began to push back when officers pushed them away from the demonstration area. Fights between officers and protesters ensued. According to officials, no more than 10 protesters were arrested, but they didn't know the charges.

The gathering was the third similar event held in Chapel Hill in the last few weeks. Supporters and opponents of the torn-down statue gathered for dueling protests on August 30. A few days earlier, protesters gathered for another protest at the site of the statue. 

The rallies come after opponents of the statue toppled Silent Sam from its pedestal – leaving university administrators to decide whether or not to return the statue to its prominent spot on the Chapel Hill campus.

The UNC Board of Governors has given Chancellor Carol Folt and the Board of Trustees until mid-November to issue a decision on what to do with the statue.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Chapel Hill Police as the lead agency at the protest. The department provided officers at the request of UNC Police, but UNC Police was the lead agency. Chapel Hill Police did not make any arrests during the event.

Naomi P. Brown joined WUNC in January 2017.
Elizabeth “Liz” Baier is WUNC’s Digital News Editor. She's a first-generation Colombian-American fluent in Spanish. She has two decades of experience than span print, audio, and digital reporting and editing.
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