Barry Brown had a Confederate flag in his right hand, and a wreath of colorful flowers in his left on Saturday as he approached the place where Silent Sam once stood, several videos show.
He tried to make his way through a group of counter-protesters in front of the Confederate monument’s empty pedestal on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus. He was headed toward a smaller group of protesters holding Confederate flags, clustered nearest the fallen statue’s pedestal.
But several men blocked Brown’s way. When Brown tried to go around, one person took his flag, and another appeared to make a grab at his flower wreath.
So Brown punched the man who appeared to try to take the flowers in the face.
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Police then enter the fray, and hauled Brown away. His flag is seen on the ground.
Brown was arrested and charged with simple assault for the punch at a rally on campus Saturday, five days after Silent Sam came crashing to the ground, The News & Observer reported.
Brown has been identified as a member of a group that has been referred to as a neo-Confederate organization. The group says he was “justified” in his actions.
The Southern Poverty Law Center listed the group on its online “hate map” and classifies hate groups as having “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
A few dozen people carrying Confederate flags in support of the fallen statue gathered on McCorkle Place on the UNC campus on Saturday. About 200 people who supported the statue’s forcible removal also gathered near the site of the empty pedestal, according to The News & Observer.
The Burlington Times-News reported Monday that Brown is a member of ACTBAC. Also, ACTBAC claimed Brown, and his alleged assault, on Facebook Sunday.
“For our brother that threw the punch ‘heard around the world’ we say it now and we say it again. WE SUPPORT YOU BROTHER 100%. With that being said, WE DO NOT PROMOTE VIOLENCE. But at any of our events that someone puts you in a sotuation (sic) to where you or your property is threatened, then you have a legal right to protect you and yours. And we will back you as long as the threat is real. In his case, the threat was real and justified.”
The group did not elaborate in the post on “the threat” to Brown that led to the alleged assault.
“He paid for his actions that were 110% completely justified,” ACTBAC wrote. “From every direction we can see, he was completely inside his rights to protect himself and his property. we see no reason not to stand by him or support him. He is the hardest working, one of the most caring individuals in our organization. WE SUPPORT YOU BROTHER!!!!! EVERYONE NEEDS TO SUPPORT HIM!!! Lesson learned today. ... To the little communist with a sore jaw this afternoon. Do not mess with Silent Sams flower!!!!”
Supporters on the ACTBAC posts said police did not get involved soon enough, and that police arrested the wrong person. Some went so far as to call the police officers themselves “criminals” and called for them to be “fired and prosecuted.” Many commenters said Brown did not strike the man hard enough.
Two other people besides Brown were arrested for assault on UNC’s campus Saturday including Brown: Danielle Shochet and John Quick, The N&O reported.
Others were arrested for damage to property, resisting arrest and inciting a public disturbance. Since the statue fell Aug. 20, 11 people total have been arrested or charged.
ACTBAC is also planning a “Silent Sam twilight service” at 8 p.m. Thursday in Chapel Hill, according to the group’s Facebook page.
ACTBAC is a group dedicated to supporting “our Southern rights.”