Silent Sam protests continue nearly two weeks after toppling
By Amy Cockerham
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—Approximately three hundred people gathered during Thursday night’s Silent Sam demonstration where a pepper fogger was deployed twice, and three people were arrested, after the statue was pulled down at McCorkle Place less than two weeks before.
There was heavy police presence throughout Thursday in preparation for the night’s demonstration, which marked the second since Silent Sam’s toppling. UNC-Chapel Hill police received assistance from nearby police forces including Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Greensboro police.
UNC-Chapel Hill police is not releasing the name of the officer who deployed pepper fogger at this time. Carly Miller, a member of the university’s Media Relations team said the pepper fogger was deemed necessary to maintain officer safety and order.
“Individual officers determine when to use pepper fogger, and it is driven by the circumstances of the moment,” Miller said.
The first deployment of pepper fogger happened at the end of the demonstration as police escorted Silent Sam supporters off of McCorkle Place using a bike line to serve as a temporary barrier. Nicholas Guariglia, a junior at UNC-CH said he was close to the initial deployment of pepper fogger in the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center parking lot.
“I don’t know where it came from,” Guariglia said. “I saw some kind of gas come out, and I just suddenly started coughing.”
Several individuals used bandanas to protect themselves from the pepper fogger, but police quickly asked the individuals to remove them in compliance with a town ordinance that prevents facial coverings.
The second deployment of pepper fogger occurred at a scuffle later Thursday night. According to UNC-Chapel Hill police reports, Cammi Morgan, Shannon MacLaughlin and Mary Rosen were arrested shortly before 10 p.m. for resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer.
UNC-CH Media Relations representative Carly Miller reported that with the addition of three more arrests Thursday 18 people have now been charged in connection to demonstrations on McCorkle Place since Silent Sam’s toppling.
Guariglia said he thinks police used the pepper fogger in an effort to keep everyone safe, but others did not agree. Mikayla Mann, a law student at North Carolina Central University said she watched police use pepper fogger on a crowd when it wasn’t necessary.
“Tonight I’ve seen a lot of white cops protecting white supremacy,” Mann said. “There was a bike line going on, and every single cop in the bike line was white.”
While tensions between police and Silent Sam opponents escalated quickly following the deployment of the pepper fogger, they began much earlier in the night when chants from Silent Sam opponents targeted police.
Silent Sam opponents angrily shouted “No cops! No KKK! No fascist USA!” and “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” at police standing behind metal barricades that separated Silent Sam supporters and the empty pedestal from Silent Sam opponents.
“If they want to keep this monument just get it off our campus because it’s just causing pain, violence and emotional distress,” Guariglia, student said. “It has just become too much of an issue. Get it off.”
Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement Friday she will present a plan to the Board of Governors by mid-November for an alternative location for the Silent Sam statue, which remains in an undisclosed location at this time.