To the Editor:
We write to express concern for graduate students at UNC who were attacked on November 16 by Confederate monument supporters in Chatham County. According to previous news reports and eyewitness accounts, some of the aggressors belong to the League of the South, whose stated goal is to create a white ethno-state.
In the events that transpired on Nov. 16, police arrested both the attackers and the victims. One of the attackers was released on a written promise to appear in court, while the court assigned a $10,000 bond to one of the UNC graduate students who was attacked. To be sure, violence is not an acceptable way to resolve conflict, but self-defense is not a crime. We are concerned that the police appear to have arrested victims of a crime while overlooking the perpetrators of criminal activity.
As scholars, we observe historical and contemporary patterns, and this is a concern that echoes within and beyond our campus. We are concerned that under the guise of law and order, of preserving the Constitutional right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech, the police are encouraging violence, specifically, by offering cover and protection to activists whose purpose in gathering is to provoke, inflame, and intimidate.
Our concern for students’ safety is also a concern for all of our state’s residents. We are concerned for our democracy and the principle of equal protection under the law. There is a deep history of police compliance with those who would attack otherwise peaceful protesters.