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Sacred Fire Unitarian Universalist / Mutual Aid Carrboro hasn't added a story.
It is our duty to win.
On August 20, hundreds of anti-racist students, faculty, workers, and other community members came together for a demonstration in solidarity with Maya Little and against white supremacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After hearing speeches from several Black UNC students, demonstrators marched to UNC's Jim Crow-era Confederate monument, Silent Sam, and erected an alternative monument calling for a world without white supremacy. This collective imagining culminated in the monument's long-overdue toppling, finally silencing the racist specter that had marred UNC's campus for 105 years. This act has received local, national, and international approval, and has inspired statements of solidarity from hundreds of UNC faculty, students, and alumni, as well as community members.
In the days since August 20, white supremacist groups have repeatedly mobilized to honor the stump where the monument once stood—each time met by hundreds of protesters committed to keeping racism off of UNC's campus.
24 anti-racist activists are facing criminal charges for their participation in demonstrations against white supremacy at UNC. In one instance, a UNC student is facing the same charge as a white supremacist who assaulted him.
Please support our fight against white supremacy!
These cases will undoubtedly disrupt the lives of the defendants, who are experiencing death threats, stalking, and harassment from white supremacists, in addition to legal expenses, disruptions at school and work, and repeated trips to court.
More charges may be filed any day.
The outcome of these cases will affect everyone who fights for a better world. Your financial support is needed and appreciated—will you join this effort?
The Anti-Racist Activist Fund is a project of Take Action Chapel Hill and is sponsored by Sacred Fire Unitarian Universalist/Mutual Aid Carrboro, a local faith-based non-profit. Our Working Group, the group that is in charge of distributing and accounting for donated funds, is currently comprised of representatives from key stakeholders on and off campus. We created and plan to operate this general fund in direct dialogue with defendants and other participants in the struggle against Silent Sam and white supremacy. Mutual Aid Carrboro is not taking any administrative fees, and all work on this fund and by Take Action Chapel Hill is being done on an entirely volunteer basis.
We envision this general fund as providing a variety of support to defendants and activists, including payment for legal-related needs. Transparent information about fund allocation will be posted to takeactionch.com. If there are any funds left after cases are concluded, we plan to use this money to build infrastructure in Chapel Hill for organizing against white supremacy and all forms of oppression, including events, classes, equipment for activists, and community organizing space.
Silent Sam has been a flashpoint for anti-racist struggle for at least fifty years. It was donated to UNC by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and erected in 1913 during the Jim Crow era. Racist and KKK-supporter Julian Carr boasted during a speech at the statue’s dedication that, just yards away from the monument and under the gaze of Federal soldiers, he had “horse-whipped a negro wench, until her skirts hung in shreds” because she had insulted a white woman. Protesters threw paint on the statue when Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in 1968; demonstrators gathered around it to remember two black men, James Cates, who was murdered on UNC’s campus by a white motorcycle gang, and William Murphy, who was murdered by a NC highway patrolman, in 1971. A crowd marched on the statue when the police officers who beat Rodney King were declared innocent in 1992.
There has long been broad community support for Silent Sam’s removal, but a 2015 law passed by the North Carolina General Assembly makes it difficult to do so. However, the Governor of North Carolina advised the University in August of 2017 that it has the legal authority to remove the statue due to a loophole in the law. Instead of taking advantage of this opportunity, the university has doubled down on its support for Silent Sam and white supremacy; UNC spent $390,000 during the 2017-2018 school year on policing and other security measures in order to protect this monument to the Confederacy.
The latest cycle of protest began the day after the bloody clashes of August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, when two hundred people gathered around the statue to hear anti-fascists returning from Charlottesville describe their experiences. The following day, demonstrators in neighboring Durham toppled the Confederate monument in their downtown. No one was ultimately convicted for this.
One week later, more than seven hundred people gathered at Silent Sam for a demonstration that launched a student-led sit-in at the statue. The occupation continued for over a week before police forcibly shut it down. Student organizers then began a protracted campaign against the statue. They later found out that an undercover UNC Police officer had been tasked with infiltrating the sit-in and spying on student activists.
On April 30, 2018, Maya Little, one of the sit-in student organizers, doused Silent Sam in paint and her own blood. At the end of the spring 2018 semester, at a panel discussion following a screening of a student documentary about resistance to the statue, Maya and several other Black women students described meeting at the demonstration against Silent Sam on the first day of the fall 2017 semester. Panelists enjoined the attendees to get rid of the statue by any means necessary, to thunderous applause.
April 30, 2018: The Recontextualization
Maya Little, a Black UNC PhD student, is facing criminal and honor court charges for pouring red paint and her own blood on Silent Sam last April. In the statement she released about her action, Maya explained, “Today I have thrown my blood and red ink on this statue as a part of the continued mission to provide the context that the Chancellor refuses to. Chancellor Folt, if you refuse to remove the statue, then we will continue to contextualize it. Silent Sam is violence; Silent Sam is the genocide of black people; Silent Sam is antithetical to our right to exist. You should see him the way that we do, at the forefront of our campus covered in our blood.”
August 20, 2018: The Toppling
Less than four months after Maya’s action, a crowd of hundreds of community members took down Silent Sam. Four people, including a UNC undergraduate student, are currently facing criminal charges as a result of this brave action, and more charges may be filed. Two additional protesters are facing charges: one for allegedly covering his face with a bandanna, and the other for allegedly assaulting the editor of an alt-right news blog.
August 25, 2018: The Oath Keepers Protest
Two out-of-town hate groups, ACTBAC and the Oath Keepers, converged on UNC’s campus to protest Silent Sam’s toppling. The police aggressively assaulted several of the hundreds of counter-protesters present—but when one white supremacist walked directly up to a UNC undergraduate and punched him in the face, officers responded with considerable restraint, politely walking the assailant away from the scene of the crime. The assailant was the only white supremacist arrested, while police pressed charges against seven counter-demonstrators, including the undergraduate student he had punched.
August 30, 2018: The ACTBAC Protest
Hundreds of anti-racist counter-protesters again met ACTBAC at Silent Sam’s stump, this time for a dance party advertised with the tagline “Dance on his grave!” The counter-protesters danced joyously, waving glow sticks. Ultimately, three anti-racist protesters were arrested after police pepper sprayed the crowd while trying to escort neo-Confederates and white supremacists safely off of UNC’s campus.
September 8, 2018: The Confederate States of America Protest
About 100 anti-racist counter-protesters gathered to have a canned food drive and “Nazis Suck Potluck” while neo-confederate protesters, one with a swastika tattoo, honored Sam's stump. Police confiscated the canned food, tackled, pushed, and choked protesters, and threw a smoke bomb at students, ultimately brutally arresting eight brave demonstrators.
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