UNC Board of Governors member: UNC plan for Silent Sam ‘cowardice’

Silent Sam statue at UNC Chapel Hill (Photo: Michael Hyland/WNCN)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — When the UNC System Board of Governors meets later this month and discusses UNC Chapel Hill’s plan to build a new facility that would house a controversial Confederate statue, Thom Goolsby won’t support the idea.

Yesterday the UNC Board of Trustees approved building a new education and history center that would house the Silent Sam statue. Protestors toppled the monument to Confederate soldiers last summer.

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The UNC System Board of Governors must give final approval for the project. The board is expected to discuss it at its meeting Dec. 14.

Goolsby, a Wilmington attorney and former state senator, who serves on the Board of Governors, took to YouTube today to call the idea for a $5 million building on the outskirts of campus “sheer cowardice.”

“Neither the left nor the right is happy,” Goolsby said in the video. “If you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to anyone.”

Goolsby says state law is clear that Silent Sam should have been put back in its original place on the Chapel Hill campus “within 90 days of the outside radicals tearing it down, when our police stood down and our administration did nothing.”

Goolsby says UNC leaders are misinterpreting the state law that protects monuments like Silent Sam. He says an exclusion in the statute for “a threat to public safety or because of an unsafe or dangerous condition” refers to situations like building a new road or problems with the ground.

“It is not outside radicals coming on your campus, destroying property,” Goolsby said. “The law is not being correctly applied here, because of whatever agenda is being pushed forward.”

Goolsby said the only reason putting Silent Sam back should not have already happened is that apparently there are only two people in the country who can repair the statue, and they are not available to start work until January.