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Monday numbers: A closer look at the controversy surrounding “Silent Sam” and associated protests

[1]At its May 21-22 meeting, the UNC Board of Governors is scheduled to hear a long-delayed plan for the future of the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument, which was toppled by protesters last August.

As students, staff and faculty continue to oppose the statue’s return to campus of UNC-Chapel Hill and rally for changes in on-campus policing [2], we take a by-the-numbers look back at the “after action report [3]” on the toppling commissioned by UNC and released early this year.

The document, prepared by the Parker Poe law firm, has been the basis of much of the board’s discussion regarding the toppling of the monument, the movement to remove and keep it off campus and policing of the campus during protest actions.

The report found “serious deficiencies” in the handling of the August 20, 2018 protest that led to the statue’s toppling. It concluded there was “no evidence of a conspiracy between UNC-CH and protesters or any other individuals to remove Silent Sam” but did point to a number of improvements the campus and police could make to handle protests in the future.

Many students, faculty and staff have disputed parts of the report and criticized it as a one-sided document that doesn’t accurately portray many of the events leading up the the statue’s toppling and its aftermath.

27 – number of UNC-Chapel Hill Police Department members interviewed for the report

11 – number of UNC-Chapel Hill administrators interviewed for the report

2 – number of UNC System Administrators interviewed for the report

2 – number of members of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees interviewed for the report

2 – number of unnamed, uncategorized “miscellaneous witnesses” interviewed for the report

0 – number of students identified as having been interviewed for the report

0 – number of UNC-Chapel Hill faculty members identified as having been interviewed

0 – number of activists involved in the protest action identified as having been interviewed

$390,000 – the amount spent to secure the monument from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, according to a UNC-Chapel Hill statement quoted in the report

$3,000 – the additional cost to “clean the monument after vandalism during the fiscal year” according to the report

$621,000 – annual cost of continuing to secure the monument, as estimated by UNC-Chapel Hill Police Chief Jeff McCracken and quoted in the report

2 – number of cameras installed so that police could watch a livestream of the monument at the 911 dispatch center, according to the report

1 – the minimum number of UNC-Chapel Hill Police officers assigned to patrol the area of the monument twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, according to the report.

$2 million – the projected annual cost of creating a “mobile force platoon” (a standing force of law enforcement officers who can travel to whichever university may experience “civil disorder and violence” at large-scale protests); the suggestion came from a panel of security professionals quoted in a UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees report [4] and has since been much discussed by members of the UNC Board of Governors

$500,000 – the additional cost of equipment for at least one such “mobile force platoon”