As more than 2,000 UNC students turned their tassels at Sunday afternoon's commencement ceremony, student protesters and supporters of Silent Sam once again clashed in McCorkle Place.
The University granted permission for Silent Sam supporters to gather for a group prayer Sunday, alongside the base of the toppled statue.
At noon, about eight of them — most donning the Confederate flag on some article of clothing — entered an area enclosed by metal gates.
They were greeted by about 30 impromptu counter protestors. Soon, the two sides began to shout insults back and forth, with the metal gates acting as barriers.
Several local media outlets arrived to cover the protest. When reporters attempted to speak with supporters of the Confederate monument, counter-protestors blared various noisemakers, such as sirens and stereo systems, to interrupt recordings.
“We don’t want them to have a platform to advance their racist ideology,” said Lindsay Ayling, a history graduate student. “A lot of these neo-Confederates who come to UNC campus to demonstrate in favor of Silent Sam are either affiliated with groups who were in the (Charlottesville, Va.) ‘Unite the Right’ rally, or they themselves were at that rally, in support of the neo-Nazis.”
At 3:57 p.m., supporters of the Confederate statue packed their bags and were escorted from McCorkle Place by Chapel Hill Police.
About two hours earlier, more than 2,300 undergraduates and graduate students received their diplomas at the Dean E. Smith Center across campus. Outside of the venue, several anti-racist demonstrators held a rally.