Last remnants of controversial UNC Confederate statue removed following resignation of school's chancellor
- Crews removed remnants of a Confederate statue that stood prominently on the University of North Carolina campus after outgoing Chancellor Carol Folt ordered the base and plaques be put in storage.
- Folt wrote in a statement that the Confederate statue known as "Silent Sam" had caused "too much recent disruption" after multiple violent protests that culminated in hundreds of demonstrators tearing it down last August.
- Onlookers reportedly cheered as crews arrived with a forklift to finish the monument's removal in the early morning Tuesday.
- Folt also announced she would be resigning at the end of the school year.
Crews removed remnants of a Confederate statue from the University of North Carolina hours after the school's outgoing president ordered they be put into storage.
The university sent a statement early Tuesday confirming the work to remove the massive pedestal was happening at its Chapel Hill campus, hours after the announcement by Chancellor Carol Folt. Folt also said she was stepping down from her role at the end of the school year.
WRAL-TV reports that crews with a large truck, a forklift and floodlights performed the removal and finished the work by 2:40 am, leading to cheers by a crowd that had gathered to watch.
"There has been too much recent disruption due to the monument controversy," Folt said in a statement posted to the school's website. "Carolina's leadership needs to return its full attention to helping our University achieve its vision and to live its values."
Folt also acknowledged her decision to remove the plaques and statues had caused controversy, she felt the statue's absence would "promote public safety, enable us to begin the healing process and renew our focus on our great mission."
The statue has sparked multiple protests, which culminated in a violent clash in August 2018, where hundreds of demonstrators toppled the statue on top of the base.
The protests sparked responses from community leaders, including North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper acknowledging the statue's controversial nature but saying he did not agree with destructing the monument.
In December 2018, the school's Board of Governors rejected a plan for a $5 million on-campus history center to house the statue and set a March deadline for an alternative plan.
The statue was kept in an undisclosed location after its removal, but the base and plaque remained until Folt's announcement. Folt said the plaques and base will be stored while their fate is decided.
The statue had stood in a main area of campus since 1913, when it was gifted to the university by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Across the US, numerous Confederate statues have been removed or torn down in reaction to what appears to be a resurgence of extremist white nationalism, which culminated at the violent Unite the Right rally in August 2017.