Seven people were arrested at a rally at the University of North Carolina on Saturday, where demonstrators on both sides protested the Confederate “Silent Sam” monument that was removed earlier this week.
Protesters clashed at the Chapel Hill campus, with a group called the “Oathkeepers” rallying in support of the monument being reinstated and opposing groups arguing against the monument being on the campus.
Police said three people were arrested for assault and two for assault, destruction of property and inciting a riot. Another person was arrested for destruction of property, and one person arrested for resisting a police officer.
UNC urged students against participating in the rally yesterday, citing safety concerns.
“We do not know for sure what groups may attend, but we are mindful that the current atmosphere is highly charged, and protests that begin peacefully do not always remain that way,” UNC said Friday. “For this reason, we urge you not to attend. For those who do attend, please know that we will do all we can to protect and keep everyone safe.”
The university added: “We respect and believe in the First Amendment, the Campus Free Speech Act and the rights of peaceful protestors.”
Chapel Hill Police also said in a statement Saturday that demonstrations were possible and they were working with UNC Police to ensure safety.
The rally comes as three people were charged with misdemeanor riot and defacing of a public monument charges, CBS reports. Earlier this week, on the first day of UNC classes, roughly 250 protestors helped topple the campus’ Silent Sam statue. While the statue has been the source of protests for decades — the statue was erected in tribute to Confederate soldiers, and its tribute in 1913 specifically mentioned “horse-whipping” a black woman — calls for Silent Sam’s removal grew alongside the national debate over Confederate monuments, which many Americans view as painful reminders of the country’s divided past.
On Friday, Thom Goolsby, a member of the UNC System Board of Governors, announced on Twitter the statue be reinstalled within 90 days, citing state law.
“Criminals who destroyed state property at UNC and police who did nothing will be held accountable,” Goolsby tweeted.