Although the Orange County Courthouse was quiet, it was unusually full for a first court appearance — a time when people are formally presented with charges and given future court dates. Nearly 20 protesters crowded the courtroom, wearing buttons in support of the protesters involved in the toppling of Silent Sam on Aug. 20.
Three protesters from both sides of the Silent Sam debate — Raul Arce Jimenez, 27, Danielle Shochet, 47, and Barry Brown, 40 — were presented with charges for actions allegedly taken either during or in the days following the forced removal of Silent Sam.
The following charges and court dates were set for the protesters:
- Raul Arce Jimenez was charged with public disturbance and defacing, writing on, marking or injuring a public statue or monument and is set to appear in court on Oct. 9.
- Danielle Shochet was charged with simple assault and is set to appear in court on Sept. 20.
- Barry Brown was charged with simple affray — a disturbance caused by fighting between two or more persons in a public place — and is set to appear in court on Sept. 24.
The only person charged for the act of toppling the statue was Jimenez, who previously faced charges for the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham last year.
Jimenez declined to say whether he was involved with pulling down Silent Sam. He said he did not know if Silent Sam’s collapse was planned.
“The community came together and they decided to take down this monument,” he said. “Whether it was premeditated or not I have no clue, but the community ... UNC students and faculty came together and brought down that monument.”
UNC Ph.D. student Joseph Karlik, who also previously faced charges related to the removal of the Confederate statue in Durham, made buttons with phrases like, “Do it like Durham and Chapel Hill,” that supporters of the anti-Silent Sam movement wore in the courtroom.
Karlik said he had charges pressed against him when the Confederate statue was torn down in Durham, and he wanted to show support to the protesters facing charges related to Silent Sam.
“People came out in support of me a year ago when I was facing charges and so I want to do the same thing and be as supportive as possible,” he said.
Outside the courtroom, Jimenez spoke alongside UNC geography professor Altha Cravey as well as other students and community members who voiced their frustration with Chapel Hill police and Chancellor Carol Folt.
Cravey said Chancellor Folt is no longer supported by the faculty on the issue of Silent Sam.
“Chancellor Folt has lost all credibility with faculty, and you can see that from the flurry of letters that are coming out from different groups of faculty,” she said.
Following the remarks, tensions remained high as supporters of Jimenez and Shochet exchanged words with people supporting Barry Brown, including a woman holding a sign that read “Free Barry.”
Alan, a man who wished to be identified only by his first name, is an Alamance County resident and family friend of Barry Brown. He said he came to the courthouse to support Brown.
Though Brown was seen on video punching a student protester, Alan said supporters of Jimenez and Shochet were acting violently.
“We’ve shown peaceful demonstrations the whole time, and this is what they do all the time, so tell me who’s the violent group,” he said.
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