UNC on alert ahead of another possible Silent Sam protest

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ByJoel Brown via WTVD logo
Sunday, September 9, 2018
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UNC leaders are warning students to stay away from the site where the Silent Sam statue once stood.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- For the third time in as many weeks, UNC leaders are warning students to stay away from the site where the Silent Sam statue once stood because of the threat of potential violence.

The alert comes after Confederate heritage group The New Confederate States of America announced a vigil for Saturday evening aimed at saving UNC's controversial monument to its Confederate soldier alumni.

Hours before the vigil was set to begin, some students expressed their growing impatience with the constant tension surrounding the now-toppled monument.

"I'm very tired of it," UNC senior Clarissa Constanten said. "The students have spoken; they have torn the statue down."

Full coverage of the Silent Sam debate

Senior Tia Wall added, "I just want it to be done."

In the two previous protests since Sam was brought down by protesters, supporters of the monument have clashed with counter-protesters - sometimes violently.

In last week's demonstration, police used pepper spray on several people demonstrating against the monument.

In a news release, The New Confederates say violence will not be tolerated.

"This is not a white supremacist rally," the group wrote in a statement. "This will be strictly a peaceful heritage - not hate rally."

After three weeks of high tension, some students are ready for this all to be over.

"I think this issue just needs to be done, period," Constanten said. "I think they need to take the whole entire thing down, the whole statue that's left - so that this doesn't keep bringing up painful memories for UNC students who keep having to counter-demonstrate. I think it just needs to end so people can move on."

Saturday's event is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Town of Chapel Hill officials and school leaders are expected to beef up police presence. Road closures are possible.