UNC faculty threaten to take matters into their own hands, remove Confederate statue

"We do not fear arrest, indeed we welcome the opportunity."

Demonstrators rally for the removal of a Confederate statue, coined Silent Sam, on the campus of the University of Chapel Hill on August 22, 2017 in Chapel Hill North Carolina. CREDIT: Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images
Demonstrators rally for the removal of a Confederate statue, coined Silent Sam, on the campus of the University of Chapel Hill on August 22, 2017 in Chapel Hill North Carolina. CREDIT: Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

A group of 17 senior faculty members at the University of North Carolina (UNC) are threatening to take down a Confederate statue on campus, saying in a letter to the school’s chancellor that if the university doesn’t remove the statue — known as Silent Sam — they will take matters into their own hands.

The letter to the chancellor calling for the removal of the statue was sent to The Daily Tar Heel, the student-run campus newspaper at UNC, on Friday, and the Tar Heel met with an unidentified member of the faculty group Monday to confirm its existence.

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“The professor confirmed that there are 17 senior faculty members as part of the group that sent the letter to the chancellor,” the Tar Heel said in an update to their original story Monday afternoon. “The faculty member did not disclose a list of the members.”

Those undisclosed members, all reportedly at the full or endowed chair level, have given UNC until midnight on March 1, 2018 to remove the statue. Otherwise, they say they have prepared to remove it themselves.

“All preparations have been made to minimize disruption and personal injury,” the 17 faculty members wrote in their letter to the chancellor, which The Tar Heel printed in full. “The statue may be taken down in the next hour, next week or any time this month. It may be removed during the weekday when security is not in attendance, during a basketball game, or at 3 am when a single officer is asleep in his car parked on Franklin street. It will be taken to a safe place where it will be curated for exhibition.”

A UNC spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Tar Heel that the chancellor has received the letter.

This is hardly the first time the Confederate monument has drawn ire. Last September, ThinkProgress’ Sam Fulwood reported on the efforts to have the statue removed, and following the gathering of white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville last August, an enormous number of students gathered on campus to protest Silent Sam.

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Notably, a 2015 law prevents Confederate monuments from being altered or removed from state property, but the faculty who are threatening to remove the statue say that won’t stop them.

“We do not fear arrest,” the wrote in their letter. “[I]ndeed we welcome the opportunity to demonstrate the commitment that the Carolina faculty has to the wellbeing of its students and the principles that make this university great.”