Confederate statue known as Silent Sam removed after being toppled by protesters
Officials at UNC-Chapel Hill won’t say where they put Silent Sam, the statue of a Confederate soldier that protesters tore off its prominent pedestal at the state’s flagship university Monday night.
The 105-year-old cast bronze figure crashed to the ground face first around 9:15 p.m., pulled down by a group of demonstrators with the help of a rope.
Silent Sam was last seen in public about three hours later.
After a couple of false starts, a backhoe loader lifted the statue from the mud and guided it into a flatbed dump truck. Workers loaded the long bamboo poles that demonstrators had lashed together to form an “alternative monument” to anti-racism that enveloped the statue earlier in the evening and allowed some protesters cover to prepare the pull-down rope.
At 12:35 a.m., a worker slammed the truck bed’s heavy metal doors shut, and the truck drove away from the flash of news cameras and the glare of the heavy-duty construction spotlight that was illuminating the empty pedestal.
UNC’s associate vice chancellor for facilities services, Anna Wu, refused to answer questions Tuesday. She declined to say whether the crew that moved the statue was comprised of university employees and referred all inquiries to her spokeswoman, Allison Reid, who referred all questions to the university’s main communications office.
“We have provided all the information we currently have,” UNC spokeswoman Carly Miller said in an email Tuesday afternoon. “Someone will follow up with more information once it becomes available.”
University police were silent.
So was every member of the Chancellor’s Task Force on the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill History, a group that describes itself as “responsible for developing a comprehensive approach to curating and teaching the history of the University,” according to its website.
Reached in person, front-line workers in UNC’s facilities and maintenance departments said they had no idea where the statue had been taken.
Less mystery surrounds the whereabouts of the Confederate monument torn down by protesters in Durham last year, though its future is still to be decided.
The City-County Durham Confederate Monuments Committee was formed this year to determine what to do with what’s left of the monument. Its report and presentation to the Durham City Council and Durham County Board of Commissioners is expected in December.
Meanwhile, the crumpled Durham statue waits in storage.
Staff writer Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan contributed.