Last week, a Board of Governors committee met via conference call in a closed-door meeting. Hours later, a short press release was sent out from the chancellor’s office that finally ended Silent Sam's 15 month limbo.
As courts prepared to close for the holidays, a judge signed a judgement in a lawsuit filed against UNC and the UNC system by the N.C. Division Sons of Confederate Veterans. Although the lawsuit contains a comprehensive set of terms that appear to be pre-negotiated, a civil records database indicates that the lawsuit was filed on Nov. 27, the same day it was settled.
“The timing part is very curious to me — that they coordinated a statement ahead of time,” said T. Greg Doucette, a Durham attorney.
Activists toppled the statue in an August 2018 protest, and since then have fought to keep it off campus. In the time since that night, responsibility for the statue’s future shifted up a rung from the University to the UNC system, and then hit a climax when former Chancellor Folt resigned and had the statue's lingering base removed on a January night.
In May, the system said it would be indefinitely delaying an announcement on the statue’s future, leaving students and community members without news until this Thanksgiving break.
Doucette said he searched around the internet for information on the lawsuit after being confused by the lack of details. There are a number of specifics that need to be clarified, he said, but the courts have been closed for the Thanksgiving holiday and won’t reopen until Monday morning.
According to the court documents posted on Twitter by WRAL reporter Sarah Krueger and signed by Judge Allen Baddour, a UNC graduate, the University and the system will establish a $2.5 million fund, made up of non state money. “The Monument Trust" will seek tax-exempt status and be used “only for the preservation and benefit of the Confederate Monument as provided in a Monument Trust Agreement."
"The safety and security concerns expressed by students, faculty, and staff are genuine, and we believe this consent judgment not only addresses those concerns but does what is best for the university, and the university community in full compliance with North Carolina law,” said UNC Board of Governors member Jim Holmes in the Nov. 27 statement from the UNC system communications office.
Documents immediately available say the terms for the monument trust will allow for the construction of a facility to support the monument — along with associated expenses like securing property for the facility, repairing the monument and security costs.