UNC student says she found Confederate Silent Sam statue, but school won’t confirm

The remains of Confederate monument Silent Sam have been in hiding since protesters tore down the statue on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus last summer. Now, a UNC student reporter says she found them covered in tarps at a storage area in Chapel Hill.

Charlotte Ix, a student reporter with UNC’s student radio program Carolina Connection, thinks she’s discovered the secret location of the monument’s statue, stone pedestal and base.

Ix and her roommate went to a UNC storage yard off of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Chapel Hill last spring, Carolina Connection reported. It was dark, and she could only see a “shady figure covered in a tarp” on the other side of an opaque, barbed-wire fence, she said.

Ix went back to the site last week during the day and a got clear view by standing on top of a trash can, she said.

She saw a “large, metal figure covered with a brown tarp. It appeared to be the Silent Sam statue lying on its back with its rifle pointed towards the sky,” Ix said in her story.

Ix said she also saw something wrapped in a blue tarp that matched the size of the pedestal that the soldier was mounted on.

silent sam tarps1.jpg
A student reporter for Carolina Connection found objects that appear to be pieces of the Silent Sam Confederate monument concealed under tarps at a UNC storage area in Chapel Hill. Charlotte Ix Provided by Carolina Connection

When Ix asked UNC officials for confirmation, she said UNC-Chapel Hill Director of Media Relations Joanne Peters Denny told her in an email, “I am unable to identify what is in the photo.”

Then, Ix went back to the location and said she saw a police officer guarding the area.

A student journalist for The Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s student newspaper, visited the storage area near Horace Williams Airport Saturday and reported UNC Police at the facility. There was one patrol car guarding the fenced-in area where the objects were located and two more UNC Police cars showed up at the scene, the Daily Tar Heel reported.

UNC has not disclosed the location of the Silent Sam statue or the monument’s base location. Peters Denny told the News & Observer Saturday the university cannot share the location for security reasons.

UNC Police officials said there is a public property in that area where the students are going, however, anyone who enters a construction area or fenced-in area would be trespassing. The officials would not say whether UNC police officers were guarding the location.

The fate of Silent Sam is still in question as a committee of five members of the UNC System Board of Governors are working on finding a solution with UNC-Chapel Hill trustees and senior leadership. Their deadline for a proposal was set for March 2019, but it’s been extended indefinitely.

Campus groups at UNC Chapel Hill have called for the removal of the Confederate monument known as ‘Silent Sam’ Herald-Sun file photo

Some people have argued it should be returned to its original spot in McCorkle Place, where it stood for more than 100 years. Others, including UNC interim president Kevin Guskiewicz, say the Confederate monument doesn’t belong on campus.

In August, UNC System spokesman Jason Tyson said the group is still working with the university on different options and they don’t know if the issue will be resolved before or at the next Board of Governors meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 19 and 20.

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Kate Murphy covers higher education for The News & Observer. Previously, she covered higher education for the Cincinnati Enquirer on the investigative and enterprise team and USA Today Network. Her work has won state awards in Ohio and Kentucky and she was recently named a 2019 Education Writers Association finalist for digital storytelling.
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