Demonstrators gathered at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus Monday night achieved a decades-long goal for those opposed to public displays of Confederate statues: They toppled “Silent Sam,” a monument dedicated to fallen Civil War-era soldiers.
A crowd of about 250 students, faculty and local residents carrying banners condemning white supremacy stormed the bronze sculpture, and using ropes, they brought it crashing down from its century-old pedestal. It was the culmination of a protest that began earlier in the evening, on the eve of the first day of classes.
“I feel liberated — like I’m a part of something big. It’s literally my fourth day here,” first-year Natalia Walker told The Daily Tar Heel. “This is the biggest thing I’ve ever been a part of in my life …”
Dwayne Dixon, an Asian studies professor at UNC told the paper, “I watched it groan and shiver and come asunder.”
“I mean, it feels biblical. It’s thundering and starting to rain. It’s almost like heaven is trying to wash away the soiled, contaminated remains,” Dixon said.
Bystanders, some wearing t-shirts emblazoned with Confederate flags, watched the protest, The News & Observer reports.
According to the newspaper, “Clint Procell, 31, wore a Trump hat. A self-described conservative, Procell said he wanted to see for himself how intolerant the people protesting Silent Sam were, and the experience didn’t disappoint. He said he was pushed and his hat was temporarily stolen.”
“The main reason for me to come was to see the people fighting against Trump,” Procell told The News & Observer.
An NBC video showed protesters erupting into jubilant cheers after the statue hit the ground. Some gathered around, taking turns kicking the felled figure and trying to cover it with dirt….