The statue was known as “Silent Sam,” but the echoes from its destruction are ringing loud and clear.
The chancellor of the University of North Carolina on Tuesday issued a statement that acknowledged how controversial the statue had been in recent years, but harshly criticized the protesters who pulled it down during a demonstration Monday.
“The monument has been divisive for years, and its presence has been a source of frustration for many people not only on our campus but throughout the community,” Chancellor Carol L. Folt wrote in the statement published on Twitter.
“However, last night’s actions were unlawful and dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured.”
— UNC-Chapel Hill (@UNC) August 21, 2018
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, issued his own statement that also acknowledged the anger the statue has attracted, but said the mob action had “no place in our communities.”
The Governor understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change and he shares their frustration, but violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities. 2/2
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) August 21, 2018
According to Fox News, the demonstration that eventually ended with the statue being pulled down started in the university’s plaza on the night before the first day of classes. After about two hours of speeches, a crowd of hundreds surrounded the statue and, eventually, toppled it.
“It was all smiles and joy and dancing and jubilation, to be honest,” UNC graduate Jasmin Howard told The New York Times.
Howard said she was standing in the back of the crowd when the statue fell.
“It was really a joyous moment,” she told The Times.
But those commenting on social media weren’t convinced.
Destruction of public property is criminal … not a protest. Yet, the university will sit idly by and watch it happen and then wonder in times to come how this behavior led to more wide-spread non-civil acts of violence. #distraction #WalkAway
— Adrian Buie (@wabmaster) August 22, 2018
And others pointed out that no matter how dramatic the events of Monday might have appeared in news coverage of the statue’s destruction, it wasn’t going to end the debate about what it symbolized.
If you're like me and grew up in North Carolina, you'll know that the debate around Silent Sam at UNC has raged for decades. Protesters may have toppled the Confederate statue on Monday, but that conversation is far from over (from me and @vimalpatel232): https://t.co/ep7u90UrPC
— Sarah Brown (@Brown_e_Points) August 22, 2018
The reaction to the destruction of “Silent Sam” was still in its early stages on Wednesday.
But the echoes are likely to reverberate for a long time to come.
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