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The Daily Tar Heel

BOT says UNC lacks legal authority to remove Silent Sam


Police officers gather around Silent Sam.

The UNC Board of Trustees said the University does not have the legal authority to remove Silent Sam — after announcements by Gov. Roy Cooper and Chapel Hill mayor Pam Hemminger might have suggested otherwise. 

In a statement signed Friday by current BOT chairperson Haywood Cochrane — and three former chairpeople — the BOT said it stands behind Chancellor Carol Folt’s "fearless and decisive leadership."  

“We are making this statement because we are surprised and disappointed at the misinterpretations and false narratives regarding the University’s legal options on this situation," the BOT said in the statement. 

The statement said Louis Bissette, vice chairperson of the UNC-system Board of Governors, agreed with the BOT’s interpretation of state law. 

“Despite a differing opinion from the governor, we have not been given the green light by anyone with authority to relocate the statue,” the statement said. “Any suggestion that we have unilateral authority is inaccurate.” 

While some have speculated loopholes to the North Carolina law preventing the removal of Confederate statues might exist, the BOT advised Folt and the University against making any quick or uninformed decisions. 

“It would be unwise and imprudent for the University to take any action regarding the monument without additional legal clarity, and we would expect no less from our chancellor,” the statement said.

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