CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Gaston County resident Bill Starnes has followed the “Silent Sam” saga closely. Starnes is the legislative officer for the North Carolina branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
In an interview with WBTV Tuesday night, he explained that he has been upset over what has happened to the Silent Sam statue. The confederate monument was toppled by protesters in August of 2018. Elected leaders have been trying to decide where the monument should permanently be stored. The last remnants of the structure were removed by construction crews early Tuesday morning at the request of outgoing UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt.
Folt announced her resignation Monday along with an update about the future of the Silent Sam statue.
"The presence of the remaining parts of the monument on campus poses a continuing threat both to the personal safety and well-being of our community and to our ability to provide a stable, productive educational environment. No one learns at their best when they feel unsafe," said Folt in a press release.
Starnes thinks the relocating of the statue is illegal. Folt has said in the past that North Carolina law has has prevented the university from getting rid of the statue. Starnes thinks the people who have protested Silent Sam's existence are the ones responsible for causing all the controversy.
"How in the hell is a monument causing a problem?" questioned Starnes. "It's simply standing there."
Protesters have argued that confederate monuments like Silent Sam represent slavery and hate. Starnes argues that this is not the case. He suggests that the history of what transpired during the Civil War has been improperly taught to students.
“We are taught in school that that war was fought about slavery which is ridiculous and ludicrous,” said Starnes.
He believes the southern states were invaded by the northern states to prevent the South from establishing a free trade economy.
Starnes fears that what happened to Silent Sam could happen to other confederate monuments in North Carolina. He vows to prevent them from being tarnished or taken down.
"They represent dedication. They represent freedom. I'm not gonna see them desecrated. I'm not. I'm sick of it," said Starnes.
He said he would be willing to sit down with those who disagree with his opinions to have a respectful conversation about the topic.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper also responded to the statue's removal from campus Tuesday.
"I appreciate the Chancellor's actions to keep students and the public safe. North Carolina is welcoming to all, and our public university should reflect that," wrote Cooper in a tweet.