The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Sunday, March 3, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Cameras have watched Silent Sam since July

Cameras have been installed on Graham Memorial Hall and Hyde Hall to provide surveillance to the statue of "Silent Sam" on Monday morning Sept. 14. The camera on Graham Memorial can be found in the corner of the building, notable by its red piping.
Cameras have been installed on Graham Memorial Hall and Hyde Hall to provide surveillance to the statue of "Silent Sam" on Monday morning Sept. 14. The camera on Graham Memorial can be found in the corner of the building, notable by its red piping.

Over the summer, two security cameras trained on Silent Sam were installed in McCorkle Place by an order from the Department of Public Safety and University administration.

“The goals certainly serve public safety in terms of an investigatory tool, but I think they serve the entire University in terms of eliciting their behavior in and around that area,” DPS spokesman Randy Young said.

The cameras, installed July 10 and 17, both have views of the monument.

Young confirmed the cost of the cameras and installation was $3,600.

He said the installation of the cameras was protocol, thanks to the number of times Silent Sam has been vandalized.

“In keeping with that philosophy, surveillance cameras in an area that’s already been vandalized a couple times improves the behavior in and around the area. That’s preventative,” Young said.

“The second course would be (investigative). If there is vandalism damage to real property in that area, we would be able to use the video in our investigation.”

The monument has been modified three times recently. On July 5, the phrases “Black Lives Matter” and “KKK” were spray-painted on Silent Sam. On Aug. 18, the words “Who is Sandra Bland?” were sprayed onto the statue. A Confederate battle flag blindfolded the statue on Sept. 9.

The security cameras were not in place for the first instance but were installed before the second.

“The cameras were in place for that incident, but due to network problems, the footage itself was not attainable,” Young said.

Young said footage does exist of the blindfolding, but the act is not being investigated because it is not a criminal offense.

Some students question the idea of security cameras looking out over Silent Sam.

“It seems like they’re trying to protect something that’s not super important or something that I don’t think the University should find most important,” sophomore McNair Mitchener said.

“I think cameras should go first to protecting students, not monuments that are dated and misrepresentative of what our University stands for.”

While some students felt free speech was an issue with the cameras, others recognized that the statue is the University’s property.

“If you want to put a security camera up — if that’s what this University wanted to do — then I think they have every right to do it,” junior Laura James said.

Sophomore Aliya Tucker said the meaning might be more important that the act itself.

“At the end of the day, it’s vandalism. That’s a crime,” she said.

“So if security cameras are needed, then that’s fine. But I think that people need to look past the crime and actually at the message that they were trying to send by putting it on there.”

@AcyJackson

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

university@dailytarheel.com