Moments before her Honor Court trial, UNC graduate student Maya Little spoke into a microphone, as a crowd of students and community members listened and held flowers.
Little stood next to handmade posters and signs made in remembrance of James Lewis Cates, a Black student stabbed to death in the Pit in 1970 by members of a white supremacist biker gang. Participants snapped and stomped in support of her criticisms of the University’s actions following the toppling of Silent Sam.
Participants gathered Thursday afternoon between the Pit and Lenoir Dining Hall for a rally to memorialize Cates and support Little preceding her trial for charges of defacement of a public monument. Little was arrested for painting Silent Sam with her own blood and red paint on April 30.
On Oct. 15, she was found guilty by an Orange County District judge for defacing a public statue. She will not be required to pay court costs or restitution.
Little gave the history of James Cates and challenged local police and prosecutors whom she believes embody the white moderate. She also talked about the responsibility to practice civil disobedience in the face of systemic racism.
“When what is regarded as the law is destructive to black lives, to our dignity, to our community, as it so often has been in this country and in this town, we have a responsibility to disobey the law,” Little said.
Dawna Jones, the chairperson of the Carolina Black Caucus, attended the rally. She voiced her opinion on Little's criminal verdict.
“I don’t know that justice was served, but I don’t know that it could have been,” she said.
Calvin Deutschbein, a graduate research assistant, said the Honor Court does not have jurisdiction over Little’s actions.