CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – A heated back and forth between protesters for and against the removal of Silent Sam took place Saturday at McCorkle Place on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus.
“This is not racist and this is not hate. The sad thing is they’ve never been taught that,” Jamie Wilson said.
Wilson came from Tennessee to be at the protest Saturday afternoon.
“I came out here to show that white supremacists can’t intimidate people who have shown democratically their ideas are over with,” said UNC Alumnus Blake Rossier.
“They come over here and defied the law and take this statue down and think there’s no repercussions. Believe me, there’s repercussions coming,” said Casey Becknell, from Davidson County.
Demonstrators against the statue stood with signs and chanted against those who stood for it with confederate flags.
“We came out here peaceful, we’re going to stay peaceful, but there’s a couple that don’t want to stay peaceful, and they’re going to get what they get,” one Confederate supporter said.
“I think this fight is setting us back and not forward in regards to race relations,” Dan Murphy said. He lives in Chapel Hill.
Things did not stay peaceful. Fist fights broke out, protesters tore down Confederate flags and some of them chased Silent Sam supporters into the streets.
“That was pretty shocking to me, I didn’t know people with those views were still around. I thought that was a dead culture. So, it’s pretty shocking to me that that is still around,” UNC junior Jack Davidson said.
Police arrested seven people as the rally turned violent. The focus of chants and jeers turned from the Confederates to the police.
Several law enforcement agencies joined forces and surrounded the area to keep people on campus and in the community safe.
At one point, FOX8 cameras captured officers in riot gear working to control the crowd.
By Saturday night, things calmed down on campus and school leaders tell us there were no injuries reported from the day’s protests.