The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday December 2nd

Signs and student belongings removed from in front of Silent Sam

<p>Signs and belongings were removed Thursday morning from around Silent Sam.&nbsp;</p>
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Signs and belongings were removed Thursday morning from around Silent Sam. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said protesters said they were told to vacate the area by sunrise. Joanne Peters Denny, a UNC spokesperson, said students were not told they needed to physically move themselves. The story has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error. 

Update, 11:05a.m.: The Daily Tar Heel has recieved a statement from University spokesperson Joanne Peters Denny. 

"The University supports the free expression of ideas, and we appreciate the commitment of our students to an issue they are passionate about," she said. 

"At the same time, we have a responsibility to maintain the cleanliness and order of all campus open spaces and grounds. The Facilities Use Policy does not allow for any sign to be posted or hung on the outside of buildings or other campus-facing surfaces, and it does not allow for temporary structures to be erected below the drip line of the canopy, which would include McCorkle Place. We strive to enforce this policy as consistently as possible across campus, and do not consider the content of the signs in doing so in order to ensure all groups are treated equally.”



The UNC Department of Public Safety removed signs and  belongings of the Students of Silent Sam at around 9:20 a.m. Thursday, as the group responded with chants of “this is what democracy looks like.” 

The Students of Silent Sam — who have been leading a sit-in in front of the Confederate statue — said they were alerted Wednesday that DPS might move their belongings. 

Today at 6:07 a.m., three officers stood yards away from Silent Sam, in front of Graham Memorial, observing the scene. At around 7 a.m., those officers left, and DPS Officer G.P. Powell approached. 

When an onlooker asked what he planned on doing, Powell said not much, because the students were peaceful.

“Our job in this situation is to keep them safe and maintain the peace,” he said to the individual.

Powell told the students he was trying to help them, and he indicated that while their signs were fine, his advice was to wipe off chalk words written on the statue.

“That, they’re going to take offense to,” he said. “Just letting you guys know.”

About two hours after Powell’s departure from the scene, Chief of UNC Police Jeff McCracken — along with two other DPS officers and a cleanup crew — began removing the group's signs and any belongings left lying around the statue. 

An organizer of the Students of the Silent Sam Sit-In, who requested their name not be used, said the group had expected this, and that it was bound to happen eventually. 

“I knew that administration was going to make some kind of move to try to disrupt us, to try to make us dismantle,” they said. “It’s frustrating because we are trying to work for a good cause, and the fact that we don’t really have any support from administration, when their jobs are to protect the students, to make sure that our voices are heard — it just seems like they’re being a bit contradictory.”

The organizer said the group of students and community members are far from finished, but they need time to plan their next steps. 

“This isn’t going to stop us from doing what we believe is right,” they said. “This isn’t going to stop us from standing up against what Silent Sam stands for. Silent Sam is going to come down with or without their help.”

university@dailytarheel.com

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