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On her way out, UNC chancellor orders removal of Confederate monument remnants citing 'public safety'

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Carol Folt stepping down, but made sure what's left of 'Silent Sam' was gone first

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University of North Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt announced Monday that she would resign her post at the end of the academic year, and that the remnants of a Confederate monument on campus will be gone before she is for the sake of "public safety."

What are the details?

In a letter posted on the school's website, Folt told the Tar Heel community that she would be stepping down, and that she had already "authorized the removal of the base and commemorative plaques from the Confederate Monument site in McCorkle Place."

Folt did not mention that the site used to enshrine a statue, dubbed "Silent Sam," representing UNC students who left school to fight for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Silent Sam was toppled by protesters in August, sparking an ongoing heated debate on campus (and beyond) as to whether the tribute to southern soldiers was a salute to history or a nod to white supremacy.

The chancellor wrote, "While I recognize that some may not agree with my decision to remove the base and tablets now, I am confident this is the right one for our community — one that will promote public safety, enable us to begin the healing process and renew our focus on our great mission."

CNN reported Tuesday that the monument base, which once held the Silent Sam statue, was removed overnight and placed in a secure, undisclosed location.

According to the chairman of the board of governors — which oversees North Carolina's public universities — Folt's announcement regarding Silent Sam came as a surprise.

Harry Smith issued a statement Monday evening saying, "We are incredibly disappointed at this intentional action," The Washington Post reported. "It lacks transparency and it undermines and insults the board's goal to operate with class and dignity.

"We strive to ensure that the appropriate stakeholders are always involved and that we are always working in a healthy and professional manner," Smith added.

Anything else?

Before being torn down, Silent Sam had stood on UNC's north quad since 1913 after the United Daughters of the Confederacy asked to put up a "suitable monument" and pay for one-third of the cost. It was initially referred to as the "Soldiers Monument" before the campus newspaper The Daily Tar Heel called the statue Silent Sam in its Feb. 23, 1954, edition, The News & Observer reported.

According to an article from The Daily Tar Heel on Aug. 20, 2018, North Carolina law dictates that "'a monument, memorial or work of art owned by the State may not be removed, relocated or altered in any way without the approval of the North Carolina Historical Commission,' unless, among other reasons, the monument 'poses a threat to public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition.'"

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