The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday January 31st

Silent Sam blindfolded with Confederate flag

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The statue was blindfolded with a Confederate battle flag sometime between Tuesday night and midmorning Wednesday. The Confederate memorial was tagged with spray paint reading, “black lives matter,” and, “Who is Sandra Bland?”, respectively, on two separate occasions in July and August. The spray-painting referred to Sandra Bland, a black woman who died in police custody in Texas in July.

Shortly after the spray-painting of the statue in August, the University announced the formation of a task force to examine Silent Sam and other racially charged campus fixtures.

Randy Young, the spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said the department was not treating the hanging of the Confederate battle flag as a criminal incident.

“There was no damage to real property or defacement,” Young said. “So we reported and looked into it.”

He said they received a call reporting the incident shortly after noon.

“We’re not investigating it because it’s noncriminal,” Young said.

Chelsea Douglas, a sophomore transfer student from New York, said she had never seen a Confederate flag in person before coming to the South.

“The first time I was in North Carolina was the first time I saw a Confederate flag, and that was just so wild,” she said.

Douglas said the presence of a Confederate monument was not surprising.

“We’re in North Carolina,” she said. “I expect this.”

Erinn Crider, a junior, said she didn’t think spray-painting or changing the monument was the right way to send a message.

“I can absolutely understand why people find Silent Sam offensive,” she said. “I think that vandalizing it in any way is an inappropriate way to handle harsh emotions in the situation.

“I think it calls for commentary and understanding on both sides, both for the appreciation of history, but also the appreciation of the struggle that people experienced.”

Though Julia Whitfield, a junior, said she understood some people disagree with the method, she respects the message.

“I know some people think it’s kind of disrespectful to paint on monuments like that,” she said.

“I guess it kind of is, but if standing in the Pit isn’t going to get someone’s attention, I guess people feel you’ve got to do something else to get people’s attention.”

Jim Gregory, a spokesman for the University, said the statue has had a controversial history.

“This has historically been a source of expression for people,” he said.


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