G17UNC sparks technical legal support to remove UNC's Silent Sam
A group purporting to consist of UNC faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health, and the School of Law sent a letter to Chancellor Folt over the weekend explaining that it intended to physically remove Silent Sam (for non-UNC people, Silent Sam is a statute of a soldier from the Civil War on campus) at midnight on Thursday if the University did not remove it before then. The Daily Tar Heel confirmed the identity of at least one professor in the group who also verified its existence. The group is called G17.
In 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation making it illegal for state officials to remove, relocate, or alter historical monuments without first obtaining the permission of the N.C. Historical Commission. One such way to obtain permission is to show the commission that moving the statute is necessary to safely preserve it. One such way to show necessity is a credible threat from distinguished members of the community that absent action from the commission and state officials this distinguished group will take matters into their own hands.
Cleverly, G17 carved out very technical legal path for the statute’s removal. In this scenario, the 2015 law would no longer hamstring a state official from moving the statute because events conspired to make it necessary for its preservation. G17 announced via Twitter (G17UNC) that Chancellor Folt will ask Governor Cooper to petition the N.C. Historical Commission to preserve the statute by relocating it. The group momentarily decided to stand down in light of that promise, but it vowed to re-engage in the event Chancellor Folt does not follow through with Governor Cooper, as it remains committed to faithfully following through with the overarching promise the University makes it all its members - to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment free from discrimination, harassment, and related misconduct.
In more a sequitur than you might initially think, here is a cool song from Mandolin Orange called Wildfire.