Silent Sam, on the UNC campus, and the Post Office, on Franklin Street, were spray painted with the words, “Who is Sandra Bland?”
The paint was discovered early Tuesday morning, as thousands of students were making their way to the first day of classes at Carolina.
Bland’s name has been a rallying cry for advocates after the African-American woman was found hanging in her jail cell in Texas. Police say she hanged herself, while family members contend that foul play was involved on the part of law enforcement.
This is the second time that Silent Sam has been tagged in recent months. Over the July 4 weekend, the words “Black Lives Matter,” “Murderer” and “KKK” were spray painted on the monument that serves as a memorial to soldiers who died fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War. University workers quickly covered the graffiti after the first tagging. On Tuesday, the lettering was left uncovered throughout the morning.
UNC Director of Media Relations Jim Gregory released the following statement on Tuesday morning, “Over the past few days hundreds of faculty, staff and members of the Carolina community have come together to welcome first-year and returning students. This is what Carolina is all about, and this includes our commitment to free speech and open dialogue on all issues, no matter how emotional and at times painful. Vandalism like this is unfortunate because it is the antithesis of open discussion and the traditions and principles for which the University stands.”
Silent Sam has not been the only memorial in the spotlight as of late. In May, the UNC Board of Trustees voted to rename Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall; the building was originally named for William L. Saunders, who was a Colonel in the Confederate Army and purported leader of the KKK in North Carolina.
Crews from the Town of Chapel Hill were out around 10 o’clock Tuesday morning cleaning off the columns of the Post Office.
— WCHL & Chapelboro (@WCHLChapelboro) August 18, 2015
UNC officials said after the July tagging of Silent Sam that a protective layer would be placed on the monument to ease cleaning efforts for future situations.
In late July, the North Carolina legislature passed a bill making it more difficult to remove or relocate Confederate monuments.