Students back in court over Confederate statue case

NORTH CAROLINA (AP) — A natio-nal civil rights organisation filed an appeal on Tuesday on behalf of University of North Carolina (UNC) students who want to intervene in a settlement that gives USD2.5 million and a Civil War commemorative statue to a Confederate heritage group.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed the appeal on behalf of five students and a faculty member who want to intervene in the deal between the UNC Board of Governors and the North Carolina Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) regarding the statue of the Confederate soldier known as “Silent Sam”.

They also want to halt any further proceedings in the trial court and prevent disbursement of the USD2.5 million pending a review by the state Court of Appeals. “We have been told repeatedly that this settlement was negotiated in the interest of student safety – but truly what safety is there in empowering a group rooted in racism and violence?” UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore De’Ivyion Drew said in a news release from the Lawyers’ Committee.

In December, Judge Allen Baddour of Orange County ruled that the students lacked standing to become involved in the legal case. He signed that order last Friday, the news release said.

Baddour did agree to hold a hearing on February 12 whether the SCV had standing to bring the lawsuit regarding Silent Sam.

The UNC board and SCV worked out the consent judgement that turned over the statue. Critics have questioned how the deal was quietly struck in a way that allowed the lawsuit and settlement to be filed in quick succession and then approved by Baddour just before Thanksgiving.

Silent Sam stood on the Chapel Hill Campus for over 100 years until it was toppled by students in August 2018.

Police stand guard after Silent Sam, a Confederate statue, was toppled by protesters on campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. PHOTO: AP