Protesters toppled the Silent Sam Confederate statue on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill on Monday night.
The monument was ripped down after 9:15 p.m. Earlier in the evening, protesters covered the statue with tall, gray banners, erecting “an alternative monument” that said, in part, “For a world without white supremacy.”
Protesters were apparently working behind the covering with ropes to bring the statue down, which happened more than two hours into a rally. It fell with a loud clanging sound, and the crowd erupted in cheers.
After Silent Sam tumbled to the ground, people darted in and out of the crowd through a haze from smoke bombs. Atop the statue someone placed a black cap that said, “Do It Like Durham,” an apparent reference to the toppling of a Confederate statue there a year ago.
People rushed to the remains, taking photos and stomping on the monument that had been erected in 1913 with donations from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The statue has been the focus of protests and vandalism for decades, but especially in the past year. UNC had installed surveillance cameras and spent $390,000 on security around the statue last year.
Stephanie Chang, 21, a recent UNC graduate, said she followed the crowd to campus after word spread on Franklin Street. By the time she got there, she saw Silent Sam’s head on the ground. Soon, police were covering the statue with a tarp.
“It’s like, Silent Sam has been tucked in, put to bed,” Chang said.
Andrew Skinner, 23, who graduated from UNC earlier this year, said he was glad the statue fell in an illegal act.
“It shows that we have the power to be on the right side of history,” Skinner said. “We are part of a long tradition of civil rights in this country.....We as a country have a lot of change and a lot of healing to do, and we are not going to get there putting racism on a pedestal.”