The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has agreed to assist UNC Police in the investigation into the toppling of the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam on the Chapel Hill campus this week.
UNC – Chapel Hill and UNC System leadership announced the move in an updated statement on Tuesday night.
The letter – signed by UNC – Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt, Board of Trustee chair Haywood Cochrane, UNC System President Margaret Spellings and Board of Governors chair Harry Smith – came after questions were raised regarding the policing tactics from the protest Monday night where the monument was pulled down from its pedestal.
During a protest in August 2017, two layers of barricades were set up surrounding the statue with police stationed between the monument and protesters. There was a heavy police presence on Monday night scattered across McCorkle Place, but the police did not stop protesters from moving toward the monument.
Protesters unfurled large banners at Peace and Justice Plaza at the beginning of Monday’s protest before moving across Franklin Street to the Confederate monument. The large banners were then set up around Silent Sam, covering the statue from view.
The protesters ultimately tied a rope around the monument, under cover of the banners, and pulled down the statue.
These policing tactics led some, including Board of Governors member Thom Goolsby, to ask if police had been ordered to “stand down” and allow protesters to pull down the monument.
“Safety is always paramount, but at no time did the administration direct the officers to allow protesters to topple the monument,” UNC officials said in Tuesday’s update.
Monday night’s rally, university leaders said, was “unlike any previous event on our campus.”
“This protest was carried out in a highly organized manner and included a number of people unaffiliated with the University. While we respect that protesters have the right to demonstrate, they do not have the right to damage state property.”
Campus police initially said a full investigation was underway, the State Bureau of Investigations is now assisting the inquiry.
“We do not support lawlessness,” university administrators said, “and we will use the full breadth of state and University processes to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”
One individual – 27-year-old Ian Paul Broadhead, of Vilas, North Carolina – was arrested by UNC Police during the initial protest Monday night, well before the statue was pulled down. Records show he is charged with resisting arrest and concealing one’s face during a public rally.
Officials reiterated that they would not tolerate “mob actions.”
“While we are grateful that no one, including our police officers, was injured during last night’s protest,” Tuesday’s update read, “we will never condone mob actions and always encourage peaceful and respectful demonstrations on our campus.”
Goolsby had additional “critical questions” that he announced via a Youtube video published on Tuesday.
In addition to asking if campus police were told to stand down, Goolsby questioned the status of the police investigation, the intent to prosecute those involved and what “steps are being taken to repair, reinstall and protect the monument in the future?”
The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office issued the following statement to WCHL on Wednesday:
“In our public spaces, we should commemorate those who represent the best of America and North Carolina. Statues that were erected in the early 20th century at the height of Jim Crow to promote white supremacy do not move us to a better future. I support a process to review these memorials and safely remove or relocate them to appropriate locations. Resorting to acts of violence that threaten public safety, however, is unacceptable.”
The statue was removed by campus workers after Monday night’s rally, but university officials have not indicated where it is being stored or what future plans are for the site.