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Protesters batter Confederate statue on UNC campus



Demonstrators struck a controversial Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Monday and covered a night that began as a peaceful demonstration, school officials said.

The university said a group of demonstrators overthrew the Confederate memorial "Silent Sam" on campus around 9:00 pm. Monday as part of a demonstration calling on officials to remove the centennial statue.

According to the university, at least 250 protesters participated in the rally, but it is unclear how many participated in the destruction of the statue.

  Police stand guard after the Confederate statue, known as Silent Sam, was overthrown by demonstrators on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, Monday, August 20, 2018. AP
Police stand guard after the Confederate statue, known as Silent Sam, was overthrown by demonstrators on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, Monday, August 20, 2018.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt condemned the vandalism in a statement on Twitter after the incident, but said the school understood why people were frustrated.

"The monument has been divisive for years and its presence has been a source of frustration for many people, not just on campus, but throughout the community," said Folt. "The deeds of last night, however, were unlawful and dangerous, and we are very happy that no one was hurt."

Police investigate the incident and "assess the full extent of the damage," she added. No injuries were reported.

Some protesters wore anti-white supremacy banners, while others voiced songs like "hey, hey, ho, ho, this racist statue must go."

  Banners are used to gather the statue, known as Silent Sam, while people gather during a rally to see the Confederate statue from the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, Monday, August 20 2018 to remove. AP
Banners are used to assemble the statue known as Silent Sam as people gather during a rally to see the Confederate statue from the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, Monday To remove August 20, 2018. [19659007] Video, which was published on social media, showed a group that draped the monument with a large white tarpaulin and blocked it from the sight of the cheering crowd before collapsing.

The crowd roared as the bronze figure bounced against the concrete. Dozens of policemen surrounded the statue after demonstrators stamped on it and covered it with dirt.

When Manuel Ricardo, a UNC freshman who arrived at the statue after the statue's descent, saw the statue's empty pedestal, it was "pretty stunning," he told the Associated Press. "I heard that the statue was run down, so I had to see it myself … I think most people here are happy, I'm excited."

Governor Roy Cooper's office said it had contact with the local police and university as a result of the incident.

"Governor Cooper is in contact with local law enforcement officials and UNC representatives regarding the rally this evening and appreciates their efforts to bring people to safety," Cooper's office said in a statement. "The governor knows that many people change from the speed of change and he shares their frustration, but violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities."

Cooper proposed last year to move the Confederacy monuments as part of a violent white racist candidacy in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one person and injuring 19 others.

The rally in August 2017 began with the planned removal of a memorial to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.


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