UNC chancellor says path in place for Silent Sam to be moved

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement Friday that a "clear path" is in place to move the now-toppled Silent Sam statue from the spot where it stood on the Chapel Hill campus for 113 years.

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The revelation comes a day after tense protests from demonstrators on both sides of the Confederate monument issue. Three people were arrested Thursday night during the events that took place near the site of the desecrated monument to UNC's fallen Civil War veterans.

"Three days ago, for the first time, the UNC System Board of Governors gave the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees and me a clear path to identify a safe, legal and alternative location for Silent Sam," Folt wrote in a release. "We are instructed to present our plan to them by November 15, 2018."

Folt would not say in a conference call with media Friday whether McCorkle Place, where the statue stood for more than a century, would be ruled out as a future spot for Silent Sam. She said on the call that the statue has been "a threat to public safety."

Folt went on to say that Silent Sam "has a place in our history and on our campus where its history can be taught, but not at the front door of a safe, welcoming, proudly public research university."

"Although there are many meanings attached to this monument, and there are folks that say it's a part of their history, I think it also has to be set against the history of white racial violence that continued in the south since the Civil War." said Cameron Barr of United Church of Chapel Hill.

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Barr is one of nearly 40 clergy members to sign a letter on what to do with Silent Sam.

"Silent Sam was in 1913 that would say to an African-American that they should stay in their place so we think it has no place especially in such a prominent, public spot in the heart of campus," Barr said. "We have a lot of work to rewrite our history so that it's more truthful and attentive to what really happened.

"The statue, it should be put in some kind of historical context that tells the stories of African-Americans, that tells the stories of this incredibly violent history," Barr added.

Folt said the university and the Board of Governors have heard daily from people "across North Carolina and the country" from people who urge the importance of preserving history and honoring fallen soldiers, as well as from those that associate such monuments with divisiveness and racism.

"The disputes around the monument are about deeply rooted and profound struggles of race, inclusion, history and honor that our entire country needs to resolve," Folt said. "We see that those conflicts and the need for their resolution are as strong as ever, even with the statue toppled from its base."

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