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The Daily Tar Heel

What we know about the anonymous faculty demanding Silent Sam's removal

Students and community members began a 24/7 demonstration at Silent Sam on Aug. 22.

Students and community members began a 24/7 demonstration at Silent Sam on Aug. 22.

On Wednesday night, the group alleging to be comprised of 17 senior faculty at UNC – "G17" – released a series of updates regarding their demand to Chancellor Carol Folt to remove Silent Sam. 

The six updates, which they shared on their Twitter account, are in response to The News & Observer's article published Wednesday afternoon. 

The updates include assessments of the weight and make of the statue, responses to criticism from University colleagues about the authenticity of the group and a defense of the group's anonymity. 

"Anonymity is important in two respects," the statement said. "First, the removal of Silent Sam is an act of kindness and communal good. It is not a pitch for ego-massaging plaudits for wealthy old white people. Second, opponents of racism live under a credible threat of violence against them, families and students." 

The list ended with a plea for Folt to pick up the phone and start the process of removing Silent Sam now.

"It is not true that the Chancellor cannot be more proactive in her efforts to relocate Silent Sam," the statement said. "It is a question of will and moral courage." 

These updates follow the initial letter the group sent to Folt demanding Silent Sam's removal. The Daily Tar Heel received a copy of the letter on Friday.

"We have decided to remove the statue ourselves if the Chancellor's office does not do so by March 1st 2018 at midnight," the letter said.

On Monday, The Daily Tar Heel met with a representative from the group, who is a senior faculty member at UNC. During the meeting, the representative confirmed the authenticity of the letter. The DTH does not know the identities of the remaining members.

In a statement Tuesday night, the group said they received word from a source in South Building that Folt is preparing to ask Gov. Roy Cooper to petition the North Carolina Historical Commission for an urgent ruling to relocate Silent Sam. 

"As a sign of good faith, understanding that the Chancellor is now seeking the quick removal of Silent Sam, we shall stand down for the present," the Tuesday statement said. "We are prepared to re-engage if the Chancellor fails to follow through on her promise." 

When asked to confirm or deny if Folt has reached out or is planning to reach out to Cooper in response to the letter, Joanne Peters Denny, a UNC spokesperson, said these conversations are not happening.

"We don't make our policy decisions based on threats from unauthenticated, anonymous groups," Peters Denny said in an email. 

Peters Denny said they do not know who is behind these statements and have not been in communication with the group.

The Daily Tar Heel's requested Tuesday night for an interview with Folt, and it was denied.

"We aren’t going to conduct interviews to respond to anonymous, unverified comments," Peters Denny said. 

Peters Denny cited Folt's history of going on the record in the past about the monument, including the letter to Gov. Cooper that she co-signed in Aug. 2017, in which she expressed her concern about public safety surrounding the monument. 

Folt's position has not changed, Peters Denny said. 

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The Daily Tar Heel has reached out to Cooper for comment and has not received a response as of time of publication. 

Check to see if there are any further updates.