Politics & Government

UNC board member: Silent Sam takedown was planned by ‘radicals’ and police did ‘nothing’

UNC Board Member Thom Goolsby says Silent Sam takedown was planned by ‘radicals’ and police did ‘nothing’

UNC-Board of Governors member Thom Goolsby, in an 8-minute YouTube video, says the Confederate statue Silent Sam was sent crashing to the ground as a result of a sophisticated plan by non-student radicals allowed by police.
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UNC-Board of Governors member Thom Goolsby, in an 8-minute YouTube video, says the Confederate statue Silent Sam was sent crashing to the ground as a result of a sophisticated plan by non-student radicals allowed by police.

Silent Sam’s takedown was the result of a “sophisticated political agenda” by “non-student radicals” that police let happen, a UNC Board of Governors member says in an 8-minute video he posted Thursday.

The destruction of Silent Sam is not as you are led to believe,” Thom Goolsby said in the video posted to his YouTube channel.

Goolsby said the statue’s fate was not the result of a student-led, spontaneous uprising, but that “crime and riot on our UNC-Chapel Hill campus” was the “work of outside, non-student radicals carrying out what is shown to be a pre-planned and sophisticated political agenda.”

Goolsby also accused the police present that night of inaction that helped bring the statue down.

“If you’ve heard that the police weren’t ready for what was going on; they were surprised — no surprise,” Goolsby said in the video.

The plan to topple Silent Sam was “put out all over” Orange and Durham counties ahead of time, Goolsby said, and was “so planned out” there were bandanas that read “Silent Sam must fall.”

Some protesters wore the Carolina blue bandanas to cover their faces, which Goolsby said was “reminiscent of the Klan.”

“The officers were ordered to stand down and stay back and allow the individuals to complete their work is sure what it sounds like,” Goolsby said. “They do nothing. ... Police turn around, give their orders and walk away.

“The rope is yanked and yanked and the police are gone and then Silent Sam comes down. Officers stand by and it crashes to the ground. Deed done. Mission accomplished.”

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt addresses the controversy surrounding the toppling of the Silent Sam Confederate monument on campus during a Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at the Paul Rizzo Conference Center in Chapel Hill.

‘The No. 1 goal’

The university has yet to respond to a public records request seeking information on the Aug. 20 demonstration that toppled the Confederate monument on campus.

The mayor of Chapel Hill, however, praised her Police Department’s actions. Emails and text messages released by the town Wednesday show Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue told his officers to give the protesters “lots of space.” When told that some Chapel Hill officers were staying with UNC Police on campus, he texted: “Yes, but do not engage w/ Crowd. Stay way out.”

The Chapel Hill Police Department provided support to UNC Police that night, Mayor Pam Hemminger said in an in interview Thursday. She said she doesn’t know what UNC Police’s instructions to the town’s police force were but said she is grateful that no one was hurt.

“I don’t know; that’s not my purview,” Hemminger said. “I do know that the No. 1 goal is to protect people. That’s the truth of it.”

The mayor noted that there was no barricade around the statue Aug. 20 and no apparent delineation of where officers should stand.

But when it come to incidents on campus, she said the university, not the town, calls the shots.

“There is a dividing line between the jurisdictions,” she said. “They are in charge. They give the orders and ask for help. We play a supportive role. If it’s on our jurisdiction we call the shots.”

Hemminger said the protest and its aftermath could have been avoided had the university sought permission to move the statue as she and others asked it to do last year.

‘Absolutely absurd’

Goolsby said he will do everything he can “as a member of the Board of Governors” to see that the university releases all information it can under under the state’s open records law.

One of the emails released by the town includes Blue thanking his officers for their efforts the night the statue fell.

“Their efforts to do what?” Goolsby asks in the video. “To stand by and watch the statue fall?

“It is absolutely absurd my friends. It will not be stood for. We are a state, a nation, of laws, not lawlessness, not mob rule. Silent Sam will be going up within 90 days from the time it was pulled down on Aug. 20 as required by state law. You can count on it.”

A crowd of protesters pull down the Confederate statue known as Silent Sam on the campus of the University of North Carolina Monday night, Aug. 20, 2018.

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