UNC Won't Take Down This Confederate Statue Despite "Safety & Security Threats"

Update: The rally to remove a Silent Sam statue on UNC Chapel Hill's campus has wound down. As of 10 p.m. local time, The News & Observer reported that the crowd had thinned and a small number of protesters were still sitting near the statue.
Although the demonstration remained largely peaceful, two people were arrested according to WRAL.
Following the rally, university spokesperson Joanne Peters Denny sent Refinery29 the following statement via email: “As a University, the free exchange of ideas under the First Amendment is core to our mission. Carolina has long been a hospitable forum and meeting place for the peaceful dissemination of differing views. It’s important to note that the vast majority of those who attended tonight’s rally honored that tradition. Unfortunately some individuals did not behave in this spirit. University police arrested two individuals who were not affiliated with the University."
Advertisement
Original story follows.
A rally is currently underway at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill to protest the presence of a Silent Sam statue on campus. Earlier today, police erected barricades around the monument of the Confederate soldier in anticipation of this evening's protests.
On Monday night, UNC officials requested assistance from Governor Roy Cooper, stating that the statue poses "significant safety and security threats" to the university. They asked Cooper to convene the state historical commission to determine the statue's future on campus, The News & Observer reports.
According to The News & Observer, Cooper responded that the university has the power to remove the statue if it poses a threat to public safety. He reportedly cited an exception written into the 2015 law that prevents removal of historic monuments.
However, UNC maintains that the situation is more complex than what has been reported.
"Despite how it is being interpreted in the media, the University has not been given the clear legal authority to act unilaterally. Governor Cooper cites a provision where removal would be permitted if a 'building inspector' concludes that physical disrepair of a statue threatens public safety, a situation not present here. The University is now caught between conflicting legal interpretations of the statute from the Governor and other legal experts," a spokesperson for the university told Refinery29 in an email statement.
"Based on law enforcement agencies’ assessments, we continue to believe that removing the Confederate Monument is in the best interest of the safety of our campus, but the university can act only in accordance with the laws of the state of North Carolina. As we continue to seek clear guidance and legal authority to act, we ask for your patience and cooperation to help us maintain as safe an environment as we possibly can," the statement continues.
Advertisement
There is a large police presence at the rally, which began at 7:00 p.m. local time. Officers dressed in riot gear guarded the monument with shields. Hundreds of protestors are holding signs that read "No Trump, No KKK, No Racist USA" and "Stop pretending racism is patriotism," WRAL reports.
The crowd chanted "Tear it down," according to The News & Observer. The outlet reports that several individuals were led away by police, but it's unclear whether or not there have been any arrests.
Refinery29 has reached out to Cooper's office for comment.
Advertisement

More from US News

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Documentary
Five love stories behind diverse, multicultural marriages.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Life experiments, 5 days at a time.
Watch Now
Fashion
The style of subculture.
Watch Now
Beauty
Viral trends, tried and tested.
Watch Now
Documentary
From vibrators to lipstick, learn how your favorite products are made.
Watch Now
Documentary
Extraordinary, one-of-a-kind individuals
Watch Now
Documentary
The latest stories to watch.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Inside the homes of millennial women — & what they paid for them
Watch Now
Comedy
Let's talk about sex, baby.
Watch Now
Documentary
Female artisans around the world
Watch Now
Politics
Made by and for smart, opinionated women.
Watch Now
Film
We helped 12 female directors claim their power.