A controversial settlement between the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has been voided. The settlement, approved in November, would have required UNC to hand over the Confederate monument “Silent Sam” to SCV and pay the group $2.5 million to preserve and house it. This Wednesday, Orange County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour dismissed the lawsuit on the basis that the plaintiff lacked legal standing.
“They had no ownership of the monument, they had no right under the monument law to bring an action, they had no standing,” said Elizabeth Haddix, from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in a video for the News & Observer.
“Silent Sam” was toppled in August 2018 by group of students, faculty, and local residents. The statue, erected in 1913 on the UNC campus, was originally funded by the Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to commemorate UNC students who fought as Confederate soldiers in the Civil War.
“We had two amazing lawyers who were able to articulate that the UDC weren’t incorporated at the time so they could not own property, and they only funded one third of the monument, therefore they couldn’t own it,” De’Ivyion Drew, a UNC-Chapel Hill student, told News & Observer.
Last December, the announcement of the settlement prompted Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to suspend a potential $1.5 million grant to the university. The grant would have funded “a campus-wide effort to reckon with UNC’s historic complicity with slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and memorialization of the Confederacy,” a project the Foundation said was at odds with UNC’s decision to “re-enshrine a symbol of the Confederacy.”
The now aborted deal to give the monument to SCV was the latest in a series of sharply criticized attempts by UNC to compromise with those in favor of the monument. Protests on the university’s campus ensued after UNC Chancellor Carol Folt introduced a proposal to construct a new building that would house the statue, at an estimated construction cost of $5.3 million, in December 2018.