Story at a glance
- The University of North Carolina made a settlement deal with Sons of Confederate Veterans in December 2019 to move the controversial Silent Sam monument.
- Now, a judge has ruled that Sons of Confederate Veterans had no right to bring the initial lawsuit, voiding the settlement agreement.
- The decision comes after students and activists challenged the $2.5 million deal.
The judge that signed off on a $2.5 million settlement deal between the University of North Carolina and Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is effectively voiding the agreement.
In a ruling on Feb. 12, Judge R. Allen Baddour said that the SCV had no standing to bring the initial lawsuit against UNC over the Silent Sam monument. The lawsuit was filed a year after protestors toppled the Confederate monument in 2018 and settled minutes after it was brought in December 2019. In fact, court records show the UNC board of governors' chairman agreed to the deal before the lawsuit was filed, according to NPR.
The bronze statue of a Confederate soldier — long known as Silent Sam — stood on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus from 1913 until it was pulled down by protestors in 2018.
The settlement was met with suspicion and confusion, as the board never held a public meeting on the future of the statue. UNC’s student newspaper The Daily Tarheel reported that two previous decisions by Baddour that were favorable to UNC had since been overturned.
A group of UNC students and faculty partnered with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to file a motion to intervene with the deal.
“The court system is supposed to resolve conflicts between parties with adverse interests. Parties must have legal authority to be in court at all, which is referred to as ‘standing,’” Attorney Elizabeth Haddix told the Tarheel.
Judge Baddour agreed, vacating his previous consent judgement.
“While this was not the result we had hoped for, we respect the court’s ruling in this case," UNC responded in a statement. "The Board of Governors knew from the very beginning that this was a difficult but needed solution to meet all their goals to protect public safety of the university community, restore normality to campus, and be compliant with the Monuments Law.”
It is not clear yet what will happen to the Silent Sam statue, which has been put in storage since being taken down.