An Anarchist Statement on the Fall of Silent Sam & a Call for Solidarity

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A short analysis of the situation on the ground in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and a call to support those that have been arrested and attacked by neo-Confederates, the media, and the police.

Following the historic toppling of the Silent Sam Confederate statue by an angry, masked crowd of hundreds in Chapel Hill, NC, UNC campus has been repeatedly swarmed by sad neo-Confederates and their police protectors, looking for vengeance and the reassertion of social control.

Various reportbacks have offered insightful analysis of these conflicts; suffice to say, the neo-Confederates remain sad and small in number, the police increasingly discredited and desperate. The forces of order, bringing police from all over the state, have attacked crowds of angry students and townies on three separate occasions, and can be seen on video defending racists with pepper spray and chokeholds, knocking kids to the ground, and flipping the tables of a food donation drive in broad daylight.

In contrast with liberal narratives that paint us as one dimensional victims, members of the crowd have not taken these assaults lying down. At every event there are new faces screaming “Fuck 12!” Youth who a year ago might be captivated by respectability politics are now de-arresting their friends and standing their ground. These highly visible conflicts have successfully forced the cowardly Chancellor Folt and various university fundraisers to finally declare, for reasons of “public safety,” that Silent Sam will not be reinstated in his formidable location at the entrance to the oldest public university in the United States.

But these conflicts have come at a high cost. As of right now 25 people are facing (thankfully, mostly minor) charges. Alongside the continued threat of neo-Confederate and fascist reprisal—these asshats are perhaps even more dangerous in their desperation—the arrests reinforce an increasingly open pipeline of information between the far-Right and local police agencies, and represent an attempt by the State to contain the situation.

Defendants and their supporters have begun a campaign to pressure the District Attorney and the Chancellor to drop all charges. The DA, the Town of Chapel Hill, and UNC are facing tremendous pressure and backlash over their handling of the statue, whose toppling was an incredibly popular act. In addition to asking our comrades around the country to take the time to call the DA every minute they can (details below), we would ask for other acts of solidarity that might literally and figuratively spread the sound of bronze crunching into the ground across North America. Especially to those here who are new to the fear and exhaustion of this moment, acts of solidarity are a welcome morale boost and a reminder that this struggle extends far beyond our small corner of North Carolina.

We are committed to continuing to expand this struggle beyond a reactive, defensive posture against neo-Confederates and court cases. With respect to some with whom we have established friendships and comaraderie in the past two years, we also reject the language of the State that the Left has often adopted in order to justify these acts. The discourse of guilt and innocence, and appeals to the Law, remain frustratingly omnipresent: “the police are the real guilty ones!,” “Toppling the statue was not a crime!,” and liberal calls to ban fascists’ flagpoles or regulate the size of their flags, all come to mind. Equally so, we hear demands for “accountability” with the police and cringe.

Declaring absurdities more loudly does not make them more true. It is in fact a crime to topple a statue. Demanding “accountability” from an institution that by definition can murder us with impunity is nonsense. Guilty and innocent, insider and outsider, violent and nonviolent, “free” speech and “hate” speech—these are legalistic concepts that in the short term position the most vulnerable among us poorly in the court cases to come, and in the long term echo an anti-blackness that deserves no place in this struggle.

We see the toppling of Silent Sam, and of Durham’s Confederate statue a year prior, as beautifully communal attacks upon both anti-blackness and the State, which offered one way outside of the reactive loop of anti-fascism in which we found ourselves. Of course, there are many other ways to keep growing and evolving this struggle for new forms of life. We take equal inspiration from those occupying ICE centers, stashing gallons of water in the desert, blockading pipelines, defending abortion clinics from fascists, striking behind prison walls, feeding West Virginia’s striking teachers, and rioting every time the police kill someone. We hope all of y’all, wherever you are, heard the metal hit the dirt on the 20th, and drew some strength from that sound, for the many hard days to come.

FTL//FTP

-some NC anarchists

Phone Zap:

CALL THE ORANGE COUNTY DA!: Phone Zap to Support NC Anti-Racists Arrestees

Call Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall at 919.644.4600 and demand that he “immediately drop all charges against anti-racist protesters,” and that “his support of white supremacy will not be tolerated.”


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