In the wake of Chancellor Carol Folt announcing her resignation and authorizing the removal of Confederate monument Silent Sam's base from McCorkle Place, anti-Silent Sam activists held an “impromptu press conference” for reporters.
The activists and reporters gathered at the base of the pedestal at 7:10 p.m. on Monday.
A single police officer stood outside Graham Memorial Hall while 17 activists stood in front of the pedestal, opposite the reporters.
Activists held cardboard signs that read: “we won,” “direct action works” and “anti-racists run this town.” They hung a long white banner that said “Tar Heels tore it” on the barricades around the pedestal.
Before the conference, activists announced a "victory party" planned for Tuesday at the Peace and Justice Plaza. Activist Calvin Deutschbein laughed and joked that it would be a pizza party.
The conference lasted 12 minutes, while four of the activists gave short, passionate speeches through a megaphone. Then, individual activists took questions from reporters for 10 more minutes.
History doctoral candidate and anti-Silent Sam activist Lindsay Ayling called the press conference to order and gave the first speech.
“We are excited that decades of anti-racist action at UNC-Chapel Hill have finally paid off,” Ayling said. “Chancellor Folt's decision to remove the Silent Sam stump was not a product of her own moral courage, it was the product of decades of direct action.”
Kristen Lavery spoke next.
“This does not change the fact that the police force at UNC has pepper sprayed us and brutalized students,” she said.
Deutschbein went next.
“There are things that have changed tonight, and there are things that have not changed,” he said. “There is a lot of lingering injustice at UNC. There is so much work left to be done.”
Gina Balamucki was the last activist to address the reporters.
“This victory comes not because of what we’ve done this year, but because of the decades of Black student and Black faculty and Black worker-led struggle at UNC,” said Balamucki. “No one, no one, no one can expect it to stay up if it’s put up by a new chancellor, it’s just not going to happen.”
The activists ended with a round of applause and a chant of “Tar Heels tore this statue down, anti-racists run this town.”
Although about half of the activists spoke to reporters, others were still avoiding allowing their names to be printed in order to avoid “doxxing” – white supremacists finding their personal information and publicizing it online.
Some student activists, particularly activists of color, were not at the press conference.
"I would say one of the primary impacts on why a lot of people of color were not out here tonight, is a lot of them were targeted the police and are trespassed from here," Lavery said. "I don't want to speak too much for anybody, but I will say I also noticed (the lack of activists of color), but I also think it's important that we included in our speeches that this has been a decades-long thing primarily led by Black women, Black people who are queer and just Black people in general."
The small crowd of activists continued to visit with each other as the reporters packed away their cameras and microphones.
“It’s a lot of joy, definitely, but also a lot of relief,” said Alli Whitenack, co-president of the Campus Y. “What’s next? Definitely making sure that this actually happens. We will hold Chancellor Folt to what she’s promised.”
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