Citing progress, group 'stands down' on removal of UNC's Silent Sam statue

CHAPEL HILL, NC (WTVD) -- An anonymous group purported to be made of 17 UNC-Chapel Hill professors who threatened to take down the Silent Sam Confederate monument is backing off that threat because of potential progress toward a resolution of the issue, it announced Tuesday night on Twitter.

According to the tweet, the group said it has gotten word from UNC Chancellor Carol Folt that she is preparing to ask Gov. Roy Cooper to petition the State Historical Commission for an urgent ruling on whether UNC can relocate the statue.

"As a sign of good faith, understanding that the Chancellor is now seeking the quick removal of Silent Sam, we shall stand down for the present," the group wrote.

Earlier Tuesday, ABC11 obtained a letter claiming to be from 17 UNC-Chapel Hill senior faculty who threatened to take down the Silent Sam monument on campus by March 1.

Inside the letter the faculty said the university "failed to fulfill its policies of non-discrimination and pastoral care of students" by not removing the monument. The professors said that UNC's inaction has put students safety at risk.

ABC11 reached out to UNC spokeswoman Joanne Peters about the letter. Peters said the university could not confirm whether it is authentic or not.

In a previous statement, Folt said "We are always concerned about safety on the campus and if we had the ability to immediately move the statue in the interest of public safety, we would. However, while we will continue to explore all options, the university currently does not have that unilateral authority or legal ability to do so."

The authors of the letter did not state their identities.

The letter stated "All the preparations have been made to minimize disruption and personal injury."

The alleged professors also claimed they would take Silent Sam to a "safe place" to be curated for an exhibit.
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