'Silent Sam' cleanup to begin Tuesday on UNC-Chapel Hill campus

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Facing north and standing tall on UNC's upper quad, a statue made of sandstone and bronze, once blending in amidst the trees, is now defaced and catching the eye of every passer-by.

"Most people don't even notice it I feel or notice what it stands for," said Anne Hastings, UNC Sociology Professor of the Silent Sam statue.

Silent Sam is a 100-year-old monument honoring UNC students and alumni who served or died while fighting for the south in the Civil War.

For only a few minutes Monday, a maintenance crew pulled back the sheet that's covered the graffiti for the last two days, exposing the spray-painted words "Black Lives Matter", "Murderer," and "KKK."

"You're not doing anything by vandalizing property," said Shawn Logan, UNC Freshman.

"They're advocating a message and it's a clear message that we all need to be listening to," said Donavon Dix, a UNC Senior.

Campus police are still searching for those responsible.

A young woman visiting Chapel Hill from Miami saw the graffiti and said those who did it should be heard, instead of having a white sheet cover their vandalism.

"The message is there and the people obviously want that message to be taken by everyone around them because they feel strongly about it," said Chaya Balkany. "There's no use in covering it up."

Three UNC police officers asked her to take down a poster she hung over the sheeted monument with her own duct tape. It read "You can cover it up, but BLACK LIVES MATTER. Hate not heritage."

A private contractor said it could take four people six hours to repair the damage. They'll also look into applying a sealant.

"Create a barrier so if anything does happen in the future it's a little bit easier to get off," said Mike Coleman, General Manager of Contaminate Control Incorporated of Salisbury.

Coleman said on a scale of one to ten, ten being the most difficult restoration project he's completed, the Silent Sam restoration registers as a four. Before calling in Coleman, the university's initial property damage estimate was $1,000.

Hastings teaches race relations at UNC. She said while vandalizing the statue was wrong, she personally would like to see the monument removed.

"I don't think there should be any serious punishment really," said Hastings. "I think that education would help a lot of why that might be offensive."

Report a Typo

Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.