UNC mum on whether police allowed toppling of Silent Sam statue

by WorldTribune Staff, August 24, 2018

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors on Aug. 23 said an outside firm would be retained to investigate how university and local police responded to the toppling of the Confederate Silent Sam statue on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

A mob of some 250 protesters toppled the statue on Aug. 20. The statue was installed on the campus in 1913.

Police on the scene after Silent Sam was toppled at the University of North Carolina. / AP

Carolina Journal (CJ) reporter Kari Travis noted that the question of how protesters were able to topple the statue “under watch of city and university police so far has reaped cryptic answers.”

Jeni Cook, a spokeswoman for UNC-Chapel Hill, “did not answer questions but pointed CJ to a general statement condemning the activity of the protesters.”

Blacklisted News on Aug. 23 posted a video which shows campus police standing down just before the mob used ropes to topple the statue.

NC state Rep. Bob Steinburg, in a telephone interview with the Raleigh News & Observer, said he was appalled at law enforcement officers standing back, “even smiling” as protesters took down Silent Sam.

“Whoever was on that security detail that allowed this to take place and are seen in this video and can be identified … need to lose their jobs. Whoever gave the directive to stand down, then these folks need to be fired,” Steinburg said.

In an Aug. 21 press release, UNC said “We rely on the experience and judgment of law enforcement to make decisions on the ground, keeping safety as the top priority.”

The Aug. 23 report by Travis noted that “The police and the State Bureau of Investigation are working to sort things out, said Harry Smith, chairman of the UNC System Board of Governors. He didn’t comment on the mechanics of the statue’s overthrow but called the story ‘fluid.’ ”

Smith told the Carolina Journal that the UNC’s governing body will support UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and will work with the school’s Board of Trustees to handle the issue “in full transparency.” Smith said he’s had many discussions with Folt about the situation. “It’s a difficult landscape she’s in,” he said.

UNC board member Marty Kotis said that university leaders need to set boundaries and rules to prevent lawless behavior.

“It’s like a toddler. If you don’t set the rules, the toddler will run amok,” Kotis said.

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