Three months after the UNC System announced it would transfer ownership of Silent Sam to The North Carolina Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Inc., the future of the monument is in question once more.
On Wednesday, a judge dismissed the $2.5 million settlement between the UNC System Board of Governors and the SCV because the Confederate group did not have legal claim to the monument. The decision came after UNC students and faculty partnered with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in a motion to intervene with the settlement.
Though we are grateful to the lawyers and plaintiffs for their work in making this happen, and that the judge chose to do the right thing, the Editorial Board recognizes that this is not a victory — it is simply an undoing of what should have never happened in the first place.
While in this instance we celebrate the legal outcome, we do not view this as evidence that the legal process always serves justice. The settlement was overturned due to a technicality related to contract law, not because it was morally wrong and irresponsible for the UNC System to give a Confederate group a $2.5 million trust and an additional $74,999.
Keep in mind, the courts are still being used to intimidate and discourage the activism which rid our campus of Silent Sam in the first place. In April, two activists were charged in the toppling of the statue and are still facing the consequences of that legal decision. And just last week, the Chatham County District Attorney filed new and redundant criminal charges against Maya Little — an hour after they were acquitted for charges filed by neo-Confederate activists — in order to coerce a plea bargain.