We had two weeks without much news about the UNC System’s Silent Sam shitstorm. It was nice.

And it had to end.

Eighty-eight UNC alumni filed an amicus brief with the Orange County Superior Court Wednesday, saying that the $2.5 million payout from the UNC System to the Sons of Confederate Veterans “seriously damages the reputation of the University, which should be committed to historical truth and opposed to modern-day white supremacy.”

Among the 88 were notable names in North Carolina history: state senator Valerie Foushee, former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice James Exum, designer Alexander Julian, North Carolina Environmental Defense Fund founder Steve Levitas, and former Olympic soccer player Carla Overbeck. The group also includes 14 UNC Black Pioneers, black students who were active in the civil rights movement on UNC-CH’s campus.

The brief says the SCV did not have standing to sue the university over Silent Sam since the Confederate monument “was always owned by the University”; the monument was donated to the university by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1913. 

That same day, the SCV filed its brief on the standing issue, arguing that it had received rights to the statue from the United Daughters of the Confederacy in exchange for the extra $74,999 the UNC System had given to the SCV.

You read that right: The UNC System gave the neo-Confederates money so that the neo-Confederates could sue the UNC System. 

The $74,999 bonus payment came to light after news broke of the initial settlement, but the Board of Governors said it was to keep the SCV from protesting on UNC’s campus. However, the Daily Tar Heel reported Friday that this wasn’t exactly the case.

Boyd Sturges, the SCV’s attorney, confirmed that the money was used to pay UDC president Sara Powell for rights to the statue, though Sturges refused to show the DTH reporter legal documentation of the transfer.

And if that wasn’t enough, WBTV reported Tuesday that the judge in the initial settlement was texting the attorney for the Board of Governors about the case before it was filed.

They texted, called, met in Hillsborough, and even got together with Sturges a week before the suit was filed. Then, before the Board of Governors voted on the settlement—even though the suit wasn’t filed yet—they texted again. While this technically doesn’t violate the NC Code of Judicial Conduct, it doesn’t exactly scream “impartial judgment.”

The Orange County Superior Court will have a hearing on the SCV’s standing to sue the BOG on February 12. The next Board of Governors meeting is February 20–21.

Sounds like this shitstorm will continue to rain.

Contact digital content coordinator Sara Pequeño at spequeno@indyweek.com. 

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