The Financial and Moral Costs of Police Presence at Silent Sam

Local media has recently called attention to the high cost of protecting Silent Sam. In an August 2017 email to Chancellor Carol Folt, UNC Police Chief Jeff McCracken estimated a price tag of $1,700 per day or $620,000 per year. More alarming than the cost itself are the ways in which UNC police have put these funds to use.

This compilation of local news reports and cell phone videos (courtesy of @Move_Silent_Sam) reveals a pattern of misconduct.

Police forces around Silent Sam have:

  • Trampled and shoved student protesters at a large rally in August 2017
  • Ordered an end to a peaceful 24-hour vigil around the statue, then confiscated activists’ property
  • Sent an undercover officer to spy on protesters
  • Ripped up historical markers intended to educate the public about the history of Silent Sam, racism, and police violence on UNC campus

Campus police have treated activists as criminals, but the protesters’ goal is to bring UNC into compliance with federal law. In September 2017, an attorney notified university officials that Silent Sam violates titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act by creating a racially hostile learning environment.

Activism is not a crime; Silent Sam is. In order to maintain this racist and illegal object, campus police have employed a wide range of tactics designed to silence students – from surveillance and undercover operations to property destruction and physical force. If you are a UNC student or Chapel Hill resident, they are funding these operations with your tuition and tax dollars.

We can no longer afford to maintain this symbol of white supremacy on our campus; the financial and moral costs are too high.

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