3 arrested amid protests at UNC’s ‘Silent Sam’ statue

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Three people were arrested amid protests at the site of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's "Silent Sam" statue.

The rally started at about 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The crowd could be heard chanting "tear it down" regarding the Confederate statue.

Two people were arrested by University Police, while Chapel Hill police arrested one person.

UNC-Chapel Hill spokesperson Joanne Peters Denny released a statement on the incident:

"As a University, the free exchange of ideas under the First Amendment is core to our mission. Carolina has long been a hospitable forum and meeting place for the peaceful dissemination of differing views. It's important to note that the vast majority of those who attended tonight's rally honored that tradition.

"Unfortunately some individuals did not behave in this spirit. University police arrested two individuals who were not affiliated with the University."

Police directed traffic as protesters marched and chanted down Franklin Street, WTVD reports. The crowd made its way back to the "Silent Sam" statue and continued to chant in protest. Some demonstrators rattled the barricades surrounding the statue.

As 10 p.m. approached, the crowd thinned, but many demonstrators remained, sitting down outside the monument.

The university said Tuesday afternoon that it "has not been given the clear legal authority to act unilaterally." Governor Cooper cites a provision where removal would be permitted if a "building inspector" concludes that physical disrepair of a statue threatens public safety, a situation not present here."

The university says it is "now caught between conflicting legal interpretations of the statute from the Governor and other legal experts."

The Confederate memorial known as "Silent Sam" faces Franklin Street, just a short walk away from the road.

Editor's note: Some tweets contain explicit language.