Judge weighs in on $2.5 million deal over UNC's 'Silent Sam' statue

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- More than a year has passed since Silent Sam came crashing down on to thunderous applause. Even though it's gone from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill campus, a group of some students and activists said the University is willing to do what it costs to save the controversial monument.

The students challenged a multi-million dollar deal with the Sons of the Confederate Veterans over Silent Sam's future.

"Not only is UNC actively emboldening white supremacy through giving monetary support to them, but they're also giving them the power with the statue to harm communities of color in the state," claimed UNC student De'Ivyion Drew.

The students asked a judge to intervene with the agreement. The court rejected the request, but did call for another hearing.

The judge said he was unsure whether the Sons of Confederate Veterans had a right to sit at the table.

"It is an emotional case and issue," Judge Allen Baddour said.

Silent Sam had been on UNC's campus for more than 100 years and was placed there by the Daughters of the Confederacy.

Countless marches, rallies and protests took place at the site of the statue. Opponents say the statue is a symbol of slavery.

Just before Thanksgiving, UNC struck a deal with the Sons of Confederate Veterans and agreed to give the group control of the monument.

The UNC Board of Governors agreed to write a check for $2.5 million for preservation, plus nearly another $75,000 to keep the group from waving Confederate flags on any of UNC's campuses during the next five years.

"We agree with the court's ruling today that the individuals seeking to intervene in the case and set aside the settlement agreement lacked standing to do so," said University of North Carolina System General Counsel and Senior Vice President Tom Shanahan. "The UNC System remains committed to protecting public safety and to ensuring that the monument does not return to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. We stand ready to provide additional information as requested by the court."

"I found it really disconcerting to watch them kind of hob-knob with a white supremacist group today. That really irked me," said UNC student Elisabeth Jones.

Attorneys who filed this motion have not decided yet whether they'll appeal.
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