CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the letter condemning Silent Sam was released by the entire Department of Physics and Astronomy. Those who signed the letter represented themselves and not their institutions. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
Members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy released a statement on Monday condemning Silent Sam and supporting the students affected by protests.
Two graduate students from the department, Timothy Osborn and Joseph Karlik, were arrested at two different demonstrations in late August and early September. Osborn was charged with affray, and Karlik was charged with failure to disperse and resisting arrest.
"We call on the University to acknowledge the threats our department members face," the letter said. "Tim was threatened at McCorkle Place with a knife in the hands of a white supremacist. Joe was unexpectedly shoved by an officer at a protest and fell. He was then tackled by officers and arrested."
To show support for the two students, the department called for the district attorney and the UNC Honor Court to drop all charges against them and all other "anti-racist" protesters.
"Their accounts are well-corroborated, and we believe them," the letter said. "By ignoring these threats, the University has fostered an unsafe learning environment."