Arrests after clashes at 'Silent Sam' statue rally at UNC, reports say

Tempers flaired and there were brief clashes with police as hundreds rally demanding the removal of a confederate statue.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WRAL/WCNC) -- A Confederate statue sparked violent protests once again in the Carolinas Tuesday. Hundreds gathered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill demanding the removal of the 'Silent Sam' statue.

The NBC station in Raleigh is reporting that police arrested two people.

For hours, chants echoed across UNC's campus beneath the 'Silent Sam' confederate statue.

"White silence is white violence," shouted protestors.

As night fell tempers flared.

"Take that off your face," said a police officer. "it's illegal to cover your face."

The bandana wearing demonstrator refused. Police took him into custody, which fueled hundreds of passionate protesters.

"Let him go!" screamed demonstrators banging against the police staging area.

Police were stopped by a blockade when they tried to transport the suspects and that's when tension boiled over which eventually lead to a staged sit-in.

"We'll leave when they're with us," chanted protestors.

Moments later emotions erupted. In some cases protesters and police squared up. One woman was even carried off by her hands and feet.

Dozens of police created a shield to block protesters from getting in front of the van transporting the suspects.

NBC Charlotte was live at the scene of the rally as the events unfurled.

Earlier, fliers circulating on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus showed that a rally was planned for 7 p.m. at the university's "Silent Sam" Confederate statue, according to NBC affiliate WRAL. Crews set up barriers around the statue on Tuesday morning.

The reason for the barriers is still unclear, but Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday told UNC system officials that they have the authority to take immediate action if they believe the statue is posing a risk to public safety.

"If the University and its leadership believe such a dangerous condition is on campus, then the law gives it the authority to address those concerns. State law enforcement and emergency officials remain available to help and support the University as it navigates this process," Cooper wrote.

"As you already are aware, my administration has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the University and local law enforcement officials since the troubling unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protect the safety of the University's students, faculty and staff."

WRAL contributed to this story.

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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