As the Daily Tar Heel reports, this week a group of protesters on UNC campus used ropes to pull down the controversial Confederate monument known as Silent Sam; the protesters then covered the statue in dirt before it was removed by heavy equipment from McCorkle Place. Chancellor Carol Folt explained in a statement that the monument “has been divisive for years” but criticized the “unlawful and dangerous” act of vandalism. Time magazine published a story about the history of the statue that recounts decades of protests involving Silent Sam and includes excerpts of the speech delivered at the dedication of the statue in 1913 by Julian Carr. Carr’s full remarks, including a personal anecdote where he boasted of violently assaulting a black woman within 100 yards of the site of the monument, are available here. Keep reading for more news.
Silent Sam. The News & Observer reports that the UNC Board of Governors has announced that it will hire an outside firm to investigate university and police actions with regard to the Silent Sam protest. As that report explains, one member of the Board, Thom Goolsby, posted a video to You Tube raising questions about whether the response to the protest by campus police was adequate and whether criminal prosecution of those involved is forthcoming. One person was arrested during the protest, though reports indicate that the arrest occurred prior to the toppling of the monument. A statement from UNC leaders says that they have asked the SBI to assist in investigating the Silent Sam incident.
Amendments. The News & Observer reports that all of the living former chief justices of the North Carolina Supreme Court have joined all of the living governors in opposing two proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that may be on the ballot this fall. One of the amendments deals with the governor’s authority to fill judicial vacancies and the other deals with appointments to state boards and commissions. Ballot language concerning the proposed amendments currently is the subject of litigation in the state courts.
Manafort. On Tuesday, a federal jury in Virginia convicted Paul Manafort of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. The jury hung on ten other charges. Manafort is scheduled to go to trial next month in Washington on separate charges including money laundering and obstruction of justice. On Twitter, President Donald Trump criticized the Department of Justice for prosecuting the “12 year old tax case” and praised Manafort as a “brave man” for refusing to “break.”
Jury. At the time of writing, information about jury deliberations in the Manafort trial is coming largely from Paula Duncan, an enthusiastic supporter of President Trump. In an NBC News report, Duncan explained that she is skeptical of the broader Russia investigation but was convinced of Manafort’s guilt with regard to all of the charges he faced at the trial. Duncan said that a lone juror harbored a reasonable doubt with respect to the offenses on which the jury hung.
Cohen. Around the same time on Tuesday as the Manafort jury delivered its verdict, former Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations. At the plea hearing, Cohen implicated President Trump in the campaign finance violations, saying that “a candidate for federal office” directed him to arrange payments to women in order to prevent them from disclosing information that could have been damaging to the 2016 campaign. In the same tweet in which he praised Manafort, President Trump accused Cohen of “mak[ing] up stories in order to get a deal.”
The Speed of News. The fact that cellphones and other communication devices were not allowed in the courtroom led to one light note with regard to the Manafort trial – live footage of an NBC News intern straight booking it out of the courthouse following the verdict to deliver information to her newsroom. Temple University senior Cassie Semyon, who still holds her high school’s records in the 1600 and 3200 meter distances, was caught on live television broadcasts demonstrating perfect sprinting form as she rushed out of the building.