Chapel Hill police chief told officers to stand back as protestors toppled Confederate monument: report

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The chief of the police force in Chapel Hill, N.C. ordered officers to stand down as protestors toppled a Confederate monument at the University of North Carolina, according to a report from local station WRAL News.

“Let’s give them space,” Police Chief Chris Blue reportedly texted at 9 p.m. on the night of Aug. 20 as protesters gathered around the statue known as “Silent Sam,” representing a Confederate soldier.

Moments later he wrote, “Yes but do not engage w Crowd at statue. Stay way out.”

The statue fell at about 9:30 p.m. Shortly after, the police began to form a small boundary around the statue, according to reports at the time from The Daily Tar Heel, a campus newspaper.

WRAL obtained 400 pages of chief Blue’s emails and texts from the days of Aug. 20-21 following a public relations request.

Law enforcement’s handling of the protests and the toppling of the statue has come under scrutiny. Critics say they should have done more to prevent the statue from being taken down. 

{mosads}According to the WRAL, Blue kept a close eye on the situation developing around the statue, particularly the arrival of counter protestors.

He repeatedly asked about their location, according to the texts, and seemed to express concerns about a clash.

“Need to make sure our plainclothes guys are really looking out for counter protesters to arrive,” Blue reportedly texted at 7:35 p.m. “This thing is all over tv and internet. The longer they take with the statue the more time Folks have to arrive.”

Blue’s texts also seem to suggest that the UNC campus security force left the statue.

According to WRAL, Blue texted his officers that the UNC people were backing away from the statue.

An officer responded to the chief, texting “Copy our folks did as well.”

No one was injured in the protests but there face misdemeanor rioting or defacing public monument charges.

UNC had previously released a statement saying, “at no time did the administration direct the officers to allow protesters to topple the monument.”

“During the event, we rely on the experience and judgment of law enforcement to make decisions on the ground, keeping safety as the top priority,” the statement continued.

A member of the UNC System Board of Governors, Thom Goolsby, posted on Twitter last Thursday that the statue would be reinstalled as per state law.

Tags campus protest Confederate statue Police Silent Sam University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
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