Legal settlement will keep Confederate statue off UNC campus

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The controversial torn-down Confederate monument “Silent Sam” will not return to the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill under a legal agreement with a Confederate group, the University of North Carolina system announced Wednesday.

A judge entered a consent agreement Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans after the statue was toppled by protesters in 2018. The agreement stated that the Confederate organization will take possession of the monument from the university system and that it must be held outside any of the 14 counties currently containing a school in the UNC system.

Using “non-state funds,” the university will fund a trust of $2.5 million for “certain limited expenses related to the care and preservation of the monument, including potentially a facility to house and display the monument,” according to a statement from the school system released Wednesday.

{mosads}”The safety and security concerns expressed by students, faculty, and staff are genuine, and we believe this consent judgment not only addresses those concerns but does what is best for the university, and the university community in full compliance with North Carolina law,” Jim Holmes, a member of the UNC board of governors, said in the statement. 

The statue stood on the Chapel Hill campus for more than a century before it was torn down by protestors, according to The Associated Press.

The commander of the North Carolina division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans issued a statement calling the settlement “fair,” the AP reported.

“We have been involved in ongoing negotiations and collaboration to achieve this outcome and we believe it is a fair result,” he said.

The agreement marks the end of a contentious period between students and administrators within the UNC system as well as alumni and university faculty and staff. Protests around the statue sparked after the 2017 far-right protests in Charlottesville, Va., known as “Unite the Right.”  

The university system rejected a proposal by then-Chancellor Carol Folt to move the statue and build a $5 million facility for it elsewhere on campus in 2018, according to the AP. The system’s board of governors twice pushed back a deadline for coming up with a permanent solution for the toppled statue.

Lindsay Ayling, a UNC graduate student activist who helped organize the Silent Sam protests, told the Raleigh News & Observer that “this is the latest example of how UNC contributes to white supremacy.”

“Our protests were effective, and we proved how powerful we were as a movement,” Ayling said, calling the $2.5 million agreement from the school reprehensible. “Their solution reveals their cowardice.”

Tags North Carolina Removal of Confederate monuments and memorials Silent Sam Sons of Confederate Veterans University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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