The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s memorial to Confederate soldiers was vandalized this weekend with the words “murderer” and “black lives matter.”
The statue of a soldier, which was erected in 1913 and commemorates the more than 300 UNC students who died in the Civil War, is a source of frequent controversy on campus. The soldier’s statue is nicknamed “Silent Sam” because the soldier doesn’t carry a cartridge box and is unable to fire his gun.
The graffiti on the statue elicited an ambivalent reaction among many, the local ABC affiliate reports, in a year marked by police shootings of unarmed black men and a new debate about the South’s Confederate history and the flag’s symbolism.
“As an African-American woman, who is a student here, that statue is the very statue that pretty much says I don’t belong here, that I shouldn’t be here,” said UNC student Kirsten Adams.
“[The statue] represents hate, represents slavery, represents the division between blacks and whites and it’s not UNC, we’ve gone through a lot of stuff, but that’s in the past, leave it in the past, that’s history,” said James Elder, one of many who stopped by to see what happened to the statue overnight.
The University released a statement denouncing the vandalism, but adding: “We understand that the issue of race and place is both emotional and, for many, painful.”
Police are investigating the incident.