On Monday, just one month before the Board of Governor’s decision on the fate of Silent Sam, UNC graduate student Maya Little was found guilty of defacing Silent Sam. Although Orange County District Court Judge Samantha Cabe found her guilty of smearing blood and red paint over the Confederate statue in April, she did not punish Little and waived her court costs.
The lead prosecutor said he hoped Silent Sam would not be reinstated, and respects Little, according to an article in The Daily Tar Heel. Despite his words and the court's decision not to impose punishment, Little was still found guilty and now finds herself with a criminal record. Echoing the attitude the University's administration has displayed toward Silent Sam, the court’s ruling was an empty gesture, refusing to take an ardent stance on one of the most polarizing debates on campus and in the state.
Yes, it’s heartening to hear that leaders in UNC and Orange County do not want Silent Sam replaced or reinstated, but at the end of the day, their lack of action in the moments that matter make them complicit in white supremacy.
Finding Little guilty and spending $400,000 a year to keep a Confederate statue up relay the same message: The leaders in our community refuse to completely denounce white supremacy and its symbols.
Little’s verdict did its best to not ruffle any feathers, to stray from making a strong political stance. But now is the time to make a strong political statement, to take the side of the people of color of campus who have been traumatized by a racist symbol at the forefront of our University for decades.