The Silent Sam statue, depicting a Confederate soldier, on the grounds of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been spray-painted with various messages, including “Black Lives Matter,” “KKK” and “murderer,” WRAL reports.
The statue is one of the latest to be defaced in a recent spree targeting Confederate monuments in light of the horrific shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
The Silent Sam statue was erected in the early 1900s to honor some 321 alumni who died in the Civil War and those who joined the Confederate Army, the news site notes.
“We understand that the issue of race and place is both emotional and, for many, painful. Carolina is working hard to ensure we have a thoughtful, respectful and inclusive dialogue on the issue,” Rice White, UNC Chapel Hill’s associate vice chancellor of communications and public affairs, told the news site. “The extensive discussions with the Carolina community this past year by the board of trustees and university leadership, and the work we will be doing to contextualize the history of our campus, is a big part of advancing those conversations. We welcome all points of view, but damaging or defacing statues is not the way to go about it."
According to the news site, the defacing of the statue has sparked conversation among UNC students about whether the statue should remain.
“I agree black lives do matter,” one student, Ishmael Bishop, said. “I am excited that there are students or community members who feel the same way I do, that Confederate monuments on our campus [are] offensive.
“We send emails and we write letters, and sometimes those emails are ignored and sometimes those letters aren’t opened,” Bishop added. “This is a statement. This is one way to do it. Property can be cleaned.”
UNC Chapel Hill isn’t the first campus with Confederate monuments on its grounds to face controversy. University of Texas students have also been petitioning to get a statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, removed from campus grounds. Davis’ statue was also spray-painted with the message “Black Lives Matter” almost two weeks ago.
Read more at WRAL.