A national civil rights group asked a court Friday to overturn a $2.5 million settlement that keeps a controversial Civil War monument off the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus but gives the statue to a Confederate heritage group.
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement that the University of North Carolina System abdicated its responsibilities by striking the deal. “We stand with the students and faculty in condemning this deeply flawed settlement that finds the UNC system complicit in financing white supremacist activity,” the leader of the civil rights group said.
The statue, known as Silent Sam, stood at an entrance to the Chapel Hill campus for more than a century, becoming increasingly divisive in recent years. It drew people determined to honor those who fought for the Confederacy and angered those who regarded it as a hateful reminder of racism and slavery. In 2018, protesters tore down Silent Sam, and school leaders were faced with what to do with it.
A settlement announced abruptly by the University of North Carolina System and its board of governors last month gives the North Carolina division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans all rights to the statue, bans the monument from any of the 14 counties with a UNC institution and creates a $2.5 million independent charitable trust for its preservation. Many students and faculty members responded with shock and outrage.