According to documents obtained by a television station, this Monday, Aug.20, 2018, a North Carolina police chief, assisting with crowd control during a protest at the University of North Carolina, told his officers to stand down while protesters tore down a century-old Confederate statue known as Silent Sam.
The messages obtained by WRAL-TV show Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue closely displayed the Aug. 20 protest when his officers backed up the UNC police force that takes the lead in policing the Chapel Hill campus.
Upon a public record request, the station obtained about 400 pages of emails and texts to and from Blue on the day of the protest and the day afterward.
During the protest around the statue known as “Silent Sam” located in the main campus quad, Chief Blue ordered officers “let’s give them lots of space” and “stay way out,” the messages show.
At one point Blue sent a message saying Chapel Hill officers were “too close.” Immediately after that, protesters pulled down the statue.
UNC campus police also used a non-confrontational strategy.
The primary responsibility of UNC police is patrolling campus, but the two departments assist each other.
Texts show police chief told Chapel Hill officers to stay back amid 'Silent Sam' protest https://t.co/MEW52C4fLj
— WRAL NEWS in NC (@WRAL) August 29, 2018
The protest had been launched at a plaza in Chapel Hill before several hundred demonstrators marched across the street onto campus.
A Town of Chapel Hill spokeswoman referred an Associated Press reporter asking about Blue’s emails to an online public records request form.
University and legislative leaders are also investigating the actions by UNC campus. Separate AP records request seeking information from UNC officials is pending.
There were no reports of any injuries during the protest.
Three people are being charged for misconduct, rioting and defacing a public monument.
Blue received several emails after the protest criticizing the way his officers dealt with the incident. Still, Blue emailed his officers on Aug. 21 and thanked them for their efforts.