Legal Settlement Will Keep Silent Sam Off UNC Campus

Nov 27, 2019

File photo of university police standing watch inside a barricade around the Silent Sam Statue at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as protestors for and against the statue's removal attended rallies near the statue on Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
Credit Matt Couch / WUNC

The Confederate statue known as Silent Sam will never again stand on a UNC campus, according to a consent order handed down today by a state court.

The North Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans had sued the UNC System and Board of Governors over the toppled statue's disposition.

Under the terms of the settlement approved by the court, the Sons of Confederate Veterans owns all rights, title and interests in the monument. Moreover, according to an announcement issued by UNC, the group "will forever maintain possession of the monument outside any of the fourteen counties currently containing a UNC System constituent institution."

Officials from UNC and the North Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans did not immediately return WUNC's requests for comment.

In a statement, the veterans organization said it believes the decision "is a fair result."

Demonstrators tore down the statue from its pedestal on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill back in August 2018. Protesters had been calling for its removal in the aftermath of the deadly 2017 "Unite the Right" rally by racist and white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Today's announcement also says that the university will use non-state funds to put together a $2.5 million charitable trust, which may be used for Silent Sam's care and preservation, including a possible facility to house and display the monument.

The UNC System announcement also said the settlement will allow the university to "focus on its core mission of teaching, education, and research."

Silent Sam's fall in 2018 set off a chain of events. Some demonstrations between neo-Confederate groups and counter-protesters turned violent. Former Chancellor Carol Folt resigned while ordering the remnants of the statue removed, and then the UNC Board of Governors took over the process of figuring out what to do with Silent Sam.

The bronze statue stood on the Chapel Hill campus for more than 100 years.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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