A Confederate war memorial that outlived the student protest group that tried to get it removed from campus has been targeted with graffiti for the fourth time in two years.
“Love is understanding why others hate. Love [is greater than] Hate. BLM,” a vandal had written in black paint on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill monument, known as “Silent Sam,” when a Daily Tar Heel photographer found it Friday.
Though no one has taken credit for the Black Lives Matter-themed vandalism, a former member of the anti-statue Real Silent Sam Coalition, which is now defunct, praised the vandalism as an “effective” form of protest at a time when UNC activists worry that turnover and fatigue are killing their cause.
After the monument to UNC alumni who fought for the South in the Civil War was first targeted with graffiti in July 2015, the university installed $3,600 security cameras.
The university then declared security footage unusable after a vandal attacked it a month later, spray-painting a reference to the disputed suicide of Sandra Bland, a black woman, in a Texas jail.
UNC opted not to investigate a third incident where someone blindfolded the statue because it wasn’t a criminal act, but it did make an arrest for the next graffiti attack in 2016, a spokesperson for campus safety told The College Fix.
This latest vandalism is under investigation, he said in an email Tuesday.
“I can confirm that there are indeed security cameras which provide surveillance footage of that area,” and the university is “encouraging members of the campus community to provide any information which might aid in the investigation.”
A police report obtained by The Fix assessed the damage to the statue at $750. Maintenance staff cleaned away Friday’s graffiti over the weekend, according to The Tar Heel.
Local politics has taken a backseat to organizing national resistance to Donald Trump’s presidency, according to activists associated with the defunct anti-statue coalition.
Public resentment toward historical Confederate symbols peaked around June 2015, when activist Bree Newsome scaled a flagpole to steal a Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House.
Current student activists seem to be less interested in a confrontational approach than their slightly older peers.
“After protesting so much and seeing nothing happen, I think we start to realize that we have to get creative,” Dominique Brodie, a sophomore and student activist, told the campus newspaper. “We have to find other ways to get the attention of administrators and other authority figures.”