Protesters planned to continue their struggle, which started in the 1960s, to permanently remove the Confederate soldier statue known as “Silent Sam” on the University of North Carolina campus.
Police arrested at least seven people Saturday at UNC-Chapel Hill, where anti-racism protesters clashed with Confederate battle flag-waving defenders of the monument, the Durham Herald Sun reported.
Demonstrators knocked down the controversial statue, which was erected in 1913, on Aug. 20, but some officials have vowed to restore it.
“We tore your f—king statue down. What comes up must come down!” the anti-racism side chanted, “Black lives, they matter here!”
It has been a decades-long fight to get rid of the statue.
“I am glad it is down. I feel personally invested in seeing it come down,” Ethan Clausett, a 1996 UNC graduate, told the newspaper, adding that he has attended dozens of Silent Sam protests over the years.
In 1908, the university’s board approved a request from North Carolina’s United Daughters of the Confederacy to build the monument on campus, according to the Charlotte News & Observer. It was intended to honor the college’s students who dropped out of school to join the Confederacy’s war against the United States to keep slavery alive. Silent Sam, which depicts a young Confederate soldier holding gun, was dedicates at UNC’s graduation commencement ceremony five years later.
By the 1960s, opponents began speaking publicly against the statue and the white supremacy ideology it represented. Graffiti was painted on Silent Sam in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. And in 1970, a KKK robe was tied around the statue’s neck.
A new generation of protesters, inspired by the wave of demonstations and removals of Confederate monuments across the South, has rededicated themselves to finally toppling Silent Sam.
However, they continue to face strong opposition. Thom Goolsby, a member of the UNC System Board of Governors, announced Thursday on Twitter the statue will be reinstalled within 90 days, under state law.