A torn-down Confederate monument will not return to the University of North Carolina campus, the school announced Wednesday, and instead be given to descendants of Confederate soldiers.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans must keep the “Silent Sam” statue outside the 14 counties that include university system campuses, according to the latest settlement in a series of debates on whether to remove or preserve such monuments.
Since protesters at UNC Chapel Hill toppled it last year, the university had deliberated how to handle the monument installed more than a century ago. Some students and faculty rejected the dedication to “the sons of the university who entered the war of 1861-65 in answer to the call of their country,” saying “Silent Sam” glorifies racism, slavery and white supremacy.
‘Unlawful and dangerous’: Confederate statue, known as ‘Silent Sam,’ toppled by protesters on UNC campus
Jim Holmes, a member of the UNC Board of Governors, said the settlement approved by a judge considers those concerns while also complying with a 2015 state law restricting the removal of public monuments.
“The safety and security concerns expressed by students, faculty, and staff are genuine, and we believe this consent judgment not only addresses those concerns but does what is best for the university, and the university community in full compliance with North Carolina law,” Holmes said in a statement.
The settlement resolved a lawsuit from the North Carolina chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which said it was pleased to get ownership of the statue.
“We have been involved in ongoing negotiations and collaboration to achieve this outcome and we believe it is a fair result,” Commander R. Kevin Stone said in a statement.
Under the agreement, university officials will also make a $2.5 million trust to cover costs related to preserving the monument. The trust will not use state funds, the university statement said.
‘Won’t be easy’: UNC rejects proposal to build new home for ‘Silent Sam’ Confederate statue
Students previously rejected using state funds to spend $5.3 million on building a new center for Silent Sam. The chancellor of UNC Chapel Hill at the time, Carol Folt, resigned a month later in January 2019.
The statue’s impromptu removal came a year after the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. About 75 Confederate memorials were renamed or removed from public places across the nation in the year after the rally, according to a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group.
Contributing: Nicquel Terry Ellis and N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY