Chapel Hill – UNC System Board Chair Harry Smith, UNC System President Margaret Spellings, UNC-Chapel Hill Trustee Chair Haywood Cochrane and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt have issued a joint statement in response to incidents involving the ‘Silent Sam’ monument that took place on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill Monday night:
“Since the Confederate Monument was brought down last night, many have questioned how police officers responded to protesters and how the University managed the event. Safety is always paramount, but at no time did the administration direct the officers to allow protesters to topple the monument. During the event, we rely on the experience and judgment of law enforcement to make decisions on the ground, keeping safety as the top priority.
Last night’s rally was unlike any previous event on our campus. This protest was carried out in a highly organized manner and included a number of people unaffiliated with the University. While we respect that protesters have the right to demonstrate, they do not have the right to damage state property.
We have asked the SBI to assist the police to fully investigate the incident, and they have agreed. We do not support lawlessness, and we will use the full breadth of state and University processes to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
The safety and security of the students and community entrusted to us have been and will remain our top priority. While we are grateful that no one, including our police officers, was injured during last night’s protest, we will never condone mob actions and always encourage peaceful and respectful demonstrations on our campus.”