Demonstrators tore down a statue of a Confederate soldier in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Monday, the latest in a string of monuments to be demolished amidst the heated debate about race and the legacy of slavery in the United States.
About 300 demonstrators gathered at the base of Silent Sam, a memorial to the Confederate soldiers killed during the Civil War to hold a protest and march.
Video provided to Reuters showed a group of protesters gathering around the statue, blocking it from view with banners. Protesters later used a rope to topple the statue, throwing dirt on it, as the crowd cheered and celebrated.
Protesters were generally peaceful, even after the statue fell, said Ryan Michaels, a student who witnessed the scene of the protests.
University authorities said in a tweet that the protesters’ actions were dangerous and that it was fortunate that “no one was injured.”
“We are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage,” the university stated.
The efforts by civil rights groups and others to do away with Confederate monuments like Silent Sam gained momentum three years ago after avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston, S.C.
Since then, more than 110 symbols of the Confederacy have been removed across the United States, with nearly 1,700 still standing, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.