Associated Press, New York Times, December 12, 2019
A national civil rights group has warned the leaders of the University of North Carolina that they should reconsider a $2.5 million settlement involving a statue of a Confederate soldier that protesters toppled last year at the system’s flagship campus.
In a letter sent to the attorney who represented the UNC Board of Governors, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law urged the board “to take all necessary action to meet (its) fiduciary obligations to protect UNC’s interest and to recover the 2.5 million dollars to be paid to support a white supremacist organization whose values are antithetical to UNC’s mission.”
The letter was sent Wednesday, two days before the board holds its regularly scheduled meeting via conference call. It doesn’t identify anyone who might be plaintiffs in a lawsuit, although it clearly lays out a case to sue.
Last month, UNC announced that the statue known as Silent Sam would be given to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which would be banned from keeping the monument in any of the 14 counties that are home to university campus. Silent Sam, dedicated in 1913 to honor UNC alumni who fought for the Confederacy, stood in a main quad of the Chapel Hill campus for more than a century before protesters pulled it to the ground in 2018.
Under the agreement, university officials are to create a $2.5 million private fund that would be used for expenses related to preserving the monument or potentially building a facility to house it. Officials have said no state money will be used for the fund
Since the agreement was announced, faculty members on the Chapel Hill campus have condemned the agreement and protesters have marched against it. The state attorney general’s office has distanced itself from the settlement as well.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans did not respond to an email seeking comment.