A monument to slaves and African American workers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was vandalized Sunday with urine and racist language.
The News and Observer reported university officials said one of the suspects spotted on surveillance cameras is tied to a group called Heirs to the Confederacy. The leader of the organization told The N&O that such an act "goes against everything we stand for" and that the group did not "sanction such an act."
Police have warrants for two suspects but have not revealed their identities. The monument—the Unsung Founders Memorial—is barricaded with police overseeing the area, The Daily Tar Heel reported Monday.
“UNC Police is conducting a thorough criminal investigation," UNC Police spokesperson Randy Young wrote in an email to The Daily Tar Heel. "Therefore, at this time we will not be releasing any details that could impede that investigation or subsequent prosecution, including, but not limited to, surveillance video footage, photos or the text of the graffiti."
The vandalism affected a campus that has been embroiled in controversy about Silent Sam, a Confederate monument that protesters toppled in August.
Since the statue was pulled down, former Chancellor Carol Folt resigned but was pushed out early by the Board of Governors instead of serving until the end of Spring semester. Her resignation came after she and the Board of Trustees recommended the statue be housed in a new $5.3 million on-campus facility.
The streets of Chapel Hill flooded with protesters following the proposal, which did not come to fruition. The Board of Governors will discuss Silent Sam's future at its May meeting, following an extension from the previously set March deadline.
A lawyer for anti-Silent Sam activist Maya Little said that Little’s name was included in the vandalism, as well as that of activist Lindsay Ayling, according to The Daily Tar Heel. Little's lawyer told Ayling that the graffiti said "F*ck Lindsay Ayling, f*ck her white supremacy," Ayling told The Daily Tar Heel.
“They’re trying to diminish the threat that white supremacy poses to our community by attempting to strip the term of any meaning,” Ayling said. “They’re mocking anti-racist activists and trying to deny that they’re racist, even while they’re in the process of desecrating a monument to slaves that built UNC’s campus.”
The Unsung Founders Memorial is located in McCorkle Place—a UNC quad—and consists of 300 figurines holding up a stone table. Built to honor people of color who helped construct some of UNC's initial buildings, the memorial was installed in 2005 after the Class of 2002 raised tens of thousands of dollars to dedicate it.
“The Class of 2002 honors the University's unsung founders—the people of color bond and free—who helped build the Carolina that we cherish today,” the monument’s inscription reads.
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