Silent Sam silenced? Gov. Cooper, UNC officials speak out after toppling of Confederate statue

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Silent Sam is no longer standing tall on The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's campus.

The pedestal is the only portion of the statue left, which stood on campus grounds for more than a century.

RELATED: Who is Silent Sam?

The Confederate monument was removed Monday night as more than 250 protesters gathered on campus, chanting for its removal.

It was a source of frustration for many students and community members while they waited for university leaders to take action - a frustration that became too much to bear, causing the group to take matters into their own hands.

WATCH: The moment the statue is toppled
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Watch: Silent Sam statue comes crashing down. Courtesy of our newsgathering partners the News and Observer.

Cheers erupted as the Confederate statue came tumbling down.

Protesters swarmed, kicking and throwing dirt on Silent Sam.

"'Thank you, Jesus' - that's what went through my heart when I seen the statue come down," one man said.

Many students, faculty, and alumni have called the statue a racist image and asked officials to remove it, though some argued it was a tribute to fallen ancestors.

UNC leaders including Chancellor Carol Folt had previously said state law prevented the school from removing the statue.

While Governor Roy Cooper had called for the removal of Silent Sam, and other rebel symbols on public land, he did not approve of the statue's destruction.

"The Governor understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change and he shares their frustration, but violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities," a tweet from his Twitter read.

The university echoed the sentiment in a statement issued after the statue came down.

"Tonight's actions were dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured. We are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage," the university said in a tweet.

A state historic panel is set to meet this week to debate Cooper's request to remove other Confederate monuments at the state Capitol.

Officials have not said if legal action will be taken agaisnt the protesters.

Those who called for the removal of Silent Sam said Monday night's protest was also in solidarity with Maya Little, the UNC graduate student who was facing expulsion from school and criminal charges for covering Silent Sam with paint and her own blood earlier this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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