A crowd gathered in front of UNC’s South Building, which is home to the office of Chancellor Carol Folt, on Tuesday afternoon calling for the removal of the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam on the university campus.
Tuesday’s rally came after protesters discovered an undercover UNC police officer at Silent Sam.
Maya Little is a grad student in the history department at UNC and has been a part of the ongoing protests at Silent Sam on McCorkle Place on the Chapel Hill campus. Little questioned the motives of UNC administrators in deploying the undercover officer.
“This administration should be disturbed when students are threatened simply for exercising their first amendment rights,” Little said. “They should be disturbed when Silent Sam supporters use racial slurs and neo-Nazi imagery to threaten the people of Chapel Hill.
“And they should also be disturbed that a campus police officer – officer Hector Borges – was employed as an undercover agent during the 24-hour sit in.”
Little said this act of using an undercover officer sent a message to protesters that the administration felt the protesters might be capable of criminal activity.
“The university has said that they placed an undercover officer in our sit in for our protection,” Little told the crowd. “We know that is a lie. Because we know when police officers offer protection, they announce themselves; they do not adopt aliases and invent false identities.
“Law enforcement goes undercover when it seeks to build a case against criminals but free speech is not a crime.”
UNC history professor William Sturkey questioned the university’s logic when justifying use of an undercover officer.
“Those students were told that state law prohibited the university from taking down the monument because there did not appear to be an obvious threat to public safety,” Sturkey said.
He added that did not align with the reasoning from UNC in deploying the undercover officer.
“We have been and remain concerned about our students getting caught in the middle of violent conflict similar to that experienced in Charlottesville, especially in the presence of the monument,” UNC officials said in a statement last week responding to the discovery of the undercover officer.
“The logic here is that the statue is not dangerous enough to remove,” Sturkey said on Tuesday, “but it is dangerous enough to infiltrate peaceful protesters – despite the fact that they already had uniformed officers at the statue.”
A public comment session on Silent Sam is scheduled for Wednesday as part of the university’s Board of Trustees meeting.
— WCHL & Chapelboro (@WCHLChapelboro) November 14, 2017