An after-action report finds there were “serious deficiencies in how University of North Carolina police and officials handled the August 20 protest in which a crowd pulled the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam to the ground.
The report was released today following a vote of the Board of Governors. (You can find the full report at the end of this post.)
Compiled by law firm Parker Poe, the report—which was transmitted to UNC officials on October 22—concluded that “while there were serious deficiencies in the way the August 20, 2018, event was handled, there is no evidence of a conspiracy between UNC-CH and any protesters or any other individuals to remove Silent Sam.”
Members of the campus community had been calling for the monument’s removal for decades, and students stepped up their protests in 2017, after the deadly white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville. On the night of August 20, a crowd gathered around the monument, as had happened many times before. Protesters then hoisted large banners covering Silent Sam and brought the figure of the Confederate soldier crashing to the ground.
Afterward, the Board of Governors asked UNC-Chapel Hill trustees to come up with a plan for disposition of the monument in accordance with a 2015 state law that restricts when and where such “objects of remembrance” can be moved. The trustees came up with a plan to build a $5.3 million history center to house the statue, but that idea was shot down by the BOG. The BOG then formed an ad hoc committee to decide what to do with the monument by Spring.
Last month, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt—in announcing plans to resign at the end of the academic year—ordered the base of the monument immediately removed from McCorkle Place. Soon after, the Board of Governors accepted her resignation but told her to step down by the end of January.
The Parker Poe assessment echoes many of the same conclusions as a report compiled by security experts the university contracted to help formulate its plan for the monument’s disposition. That report ultimately recommended a “mobile force” composed of forty officers that could be deployed to any of the seventeen UNC campuses.
“Rather than smaller, student-led demonstrations, UNC-CH faces an increasing threat from outside protest organizations and highly organized, non-student groups and networks who are not associated with UNC-CH and do not have the best interests of the UNC-CH’s community in mind,” the Parker Poe report reads.
The report goes on to conclude that “the forceful removal of Silent Sam was caused by a confluence of events”: ineffective reporting and communication between university leadership and police, inadequate event planning, and a lack of law enforcement decision-making protocols.
The report’s authors reviewed media reports of the event and interviewed twenty-seven campus police officers, eleven campus administrators, two UNC system administrators, two UNC-CH trustees, as well as two witnesses—Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue and Chris Otto, with the North Carolina Information Sharing and Analysis Center.
Without specific attribution, the report claims that on August 20, people in the crowd threw bottles of frozen water and eggs at police officers. (INDY reporter Cole Villena, who was on the scene, says he did not witness this.) The report by the security consultants released last year also says frozen water bottles were thrown, but doesn’t mention eggs.
Read the full report below:
UNC After Action Assessment… by on Scribd