As a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, you get used to the constant noise around Silent Sam.

You come to expect speeches from people like Maya Little, a graduate student who was charged with university honor code violations for covering the 105-year-old statue with her own blood earlier this year. At around 7:00 p.m. on Monday, she addressed a crowd of 150 gathered in front of the Chapel Hill courthouse at a rally called “Until They All Fall.”

“Every act of abuse at UNC and in Chapel Hill,” she said, “has been met with a legacy of resistance, a struggle against white supremacy.”

“Tear down Silent Sam,” she added, drawing cheers. Her remarks turned out to be a harbinger of how the night would end.

You learn chants and songs from attending protests or seeing clips on Twitter and Instagram. “Hey hey! Ho ho! This racist statue’s got to go!” was heard at a similar rally at the end of last summer and was the first one protesters belted out when they marched from the courthouse to the statue itself around eight Monday evening.

You even start to anticipate the more boring logistical instructions from organizers. Phrases like “Everyone back up for a second” and “We need to spread out as we march down Franklin Street” aren’t going to end up on t-shirts any time soon, but they’re a necessary part of putting a successful rally together.

It’s harder to prepare for the sounds that come as hundreds of pounds of metal are ripped from a tall stone base. At about 9:15, someone wrapped a rope around the statue—a small group of counter-protesters drawing attention away from the statue itself made it hard to tell exactly who—and, five minutes later, people started to pull.

Someone yelled out a final piece of logistical advice: “Get out of the way!”

A short metallic grinding noise. A gasp of hope. Another grinding noise, this one no louder than the first but an eternity longer. Then, a cheer that mostly drowned out an unceremonious thump. Police surrounded the fallen statue shortly after it was toppled, but not before it had been kicked, spat on, and photographed by dozens of protesters.

“What I’m going to remember about all this [is] the enjoyment of it,” said Ricky Alston, who led most of the chants as protesters marched down Franklin Street. “The crowd, the dancing, the excitement. All races pulling together and fighting for what’s right.”

UNC was not happy with the destruction—and eventually the attempted burial—of the figure of a Confederate soldier, which is protected from removal except in certain circumstances by a 2015 state law.

“Tonight’s actions were dangerous,” the school said in a statement released on Twitter, “and we are very fortunate that no one was injured. We are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage.” According to news reports, at least one person was arrested for resisting arrest prior to the statue coming down.

Early Tuesday morning, Chancellor Carol Folt issued a statement, calling the action “unlawful and dangerous.” She added that police are “investigating the vandalism” and assessing the damage.

Last year, in the aftermath of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and the toppling of a Confederate monument by protesters in Durham, UNC students also kicked off the school year with protests around Silent Sam, which students have been calling on the school to remove since at least 1965.

Those demonstrations kicked off a round-the-clock sit-in at the statue demanding its removal, statements by faculty and entire departments in support of their cause, emotional testimonies before the UNC Board of Governors, and threats by an anonymous faculty group that it would take down Silent Sam if the school didn’t.

Governor Cooper told UNC last year that the statue could be removed if its presence posed a “real risk to public safety.” On Monday evening, the governor’s office released a statement thanking law enforcement and UNC officials for keeping protesters safe at the night’s rally.

“The Governor understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change and he shares their frustration,” it read, “but violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities.”

For now, at least, Silent Sam has no place in Chapel Hill, either.

Rain drove most protesters away soon after the statue was toppled, and, by 12:30 a.m., a removal crew had placed it in a dump truck to be driven to an undisclosed location. In case you were wondering what they thought, the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ North Carolina Division weighed in with a statement early this morning, bemoaning “an unruly gang of activists who took the law into its own hands. … Unchecked by law, these riots will continue and communities across North Carolina will be faced with the same outcome. Until law enforcement and out political leaders are willing to step in, these activists will become more and more powerful.”

And what a tragedy that would be.