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Stay away from possible Silent Sam protests this weekend, UNC says

A Confederate demonstration, a dance party, and pepper spray on McCorkle Place

Pro-Silent Sam demonstrators were escorted by police on Thursday to a barricaded area near the base of where Silent Sam stood for a vigil. Protesters held a dance party and the two groups taunted each other. Police used pepper spray throughout.
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Pro-Silent Sam demonstrators were escorted by police on Thursday to a barricaded area near the base of where Silent Sam stood for a vigil. Protesters held a dance party and the two groups taunted each other. Police used pepper spray throughout.

Officials at UNC-Chapel Hill are once again urging people to stay away from “possible demonstrations” related to the toppled Silent Sam Confederate statue.

The university posted a message on its website Friday, apparently in response to a planned vigil and prayer service by the New Confederate States of America on Saturday.

In a news release Friday, the group said the vigil is a “peaceful heritage” event. It’s scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the UNC-Chapel Visitors’ Center on East Franklin Street.

“This is NOT a White Supremacist Rally,” the group said in the release, adding that it “does not condone hate of any kind.”

In a message posted Friday, the university said that “Carolina is working closely with town officials and law enforcement to ensure the safety of our communities, which remains our highest priority.”

More than a dozen people have been arrested since protesters toppled the 105-year-old Silent Sam statue on campus Aug. 20. More protests, which drew supporters of the monument and those who oppose it, took place Aug. 25 and Aug. 30.

The protests were tense at times, with physical confrontations breaking out and police using pepper spray during last week’s event.

Police deploy pepper spray near a crowd of protesters while keeping Silent Sam Confederate monument supporters separated from protesters Thursday night, August 30, 2018 at UNC-Chapel Hill.

In the message posted online Friday, the university said possible demonstrations could occur “in the late afternoon” Saturday at McCorkle Place on campus and in Chapel Hill.

Officials “do not know for sure what groups may attend, but we are mindful that the current atmosphere is highly charged, and protests that begin peacefully do not always remain that way,” the message said.

“For this reason, we urge you not to attend. For those who do attend, please know that we will do all we can to protect and keep everyone safe.”

Officials said that the size of the demonstrations may prompt street closures and the re-routing of traffic on campus and in town.

Officials also said students should call 911 if they ever feel threatened, including via social media. Counseling and psychological services are available to students, faculty and staff members, the message said.

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