UNC braces for rally over Confederate statue: ‘We urge you not to attend’

Citing a volatile mood on its campus, the University of North Carolina is urging people not to participate in a “possible rally” on Saturday in Chapel Hill over the toppling this week of a Confederate monument.

“We do not know for sure what groups may attend, but we are mindful that the current atmosphere is highly charged, and protests that begin peacefully do not always remain that way,” the university said in a statement Friday.

“For this reason, we urge you not to attend. For those who do attend, please know that we will do all we can to protect and keep everyone safe.”

The school, which gave no details about the nature of the possible rally, said it learned that students and others have received threats in the wake of the toppling of the statue Monday night. It didn’t elaborate on the nature of the threats.

The university is working with Chapel Hill officials and law enforcement. It said streets might be shut down and traffic rerouted.

About 250 protesters knocked over the school’s controversial “Silent Sam” Confederate statue. It was torn down on the eve of the first day of classes, months after students and some faculty called for its removal.

Three people have been charged with misdemeanors in connection with the incident.

The suspects, none of whom are affiliated with the school, face charges of misdemeanor riot and misdemeanor defacing a public monument, according to CNN local affiliates.

The charges were filed on Friday and the people haven’t been arrested and were not identified by the the affiliates.

Thom Goolsby, a member of the UNC Board of Governors, said on Twitter that “Silent Sam” will be reinstalled in three months time “as required by state law.”

The statue is the latest among several Confederate monuments to be removed, as communities continue to deal with the legacy of a contentious chapter in American history.

Silent Sam was not the first Confederate monument to come down in North Carolina. Last August, authorities said seven people were arrested in connection with the toppling of the Confederate Soldiers Monument during a protest in Durham.

The monument came down two days after the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left counterprotester Heather Heyer dead.