UNC Honor Court - Drop the Charges Against Antiracist Activist Maya Little
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Maya Little faces potential expulsion for an act of civil disobedience against a Confederate statue. We support the statement below, and we petition the UNC Honor Court to drop the charges against her.
On June 4, the UNC Office of Student Conduct officially charged me with violating the honor code by “stealing, destroying, or misusing property.” My Honor Court hearing may very well coincide with the criminal trial I already face for spilling red ink and my blood on Silent Sam. The Honor Court will determine whether my protest against Confederate monuments is conduct unbecoming of a UNC affiliate.
I can find no record of the Honor Court charging students for painting Silent Sam Carolina blue in 1982. But Daily Tar Heel records confirm that neither campus nor Chapel Hill police made any effort to arrest those students. Similarly, the paper reported that NC State students who painted Sam in 1974 were released by campus police without charges. At UNC, dousing the monument in paint in the name of basketball is deemed a pastime while doing the same to contextualize and fight racism is a crime. Revealing the racist violence upon which Sam was built -- exposing a truth the university would like to keep covered -- could result in my expulsion.
UNC uses its disciplinary boards to punish political activism and its police to suppress free speech. Chancellor Folt and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Safety and Risk Management, Derek Kemp, appointed an undercover police officer to infiltrate our movement and lie to and gather information on students fighting against racism. Why was it necessary to use tactics designed to entrap and engender mistrust among us? Perhaps because they are longstanding tactics of UNC administrators targeting anti-racist activists. Kemp and Folt carry on a practice that can be traced to campus police collusion with the FBI to spy on Black Student Movement (BSM) members in the 1970s. It is likely that black students protesting the 1971 murder of James Cates by a white motorcycle gang in the Pit were also targets of this surveillance. This spring, Silent Sam protesters created a series of historical markers to educate the public about Cates’s murder and the untold history of white supremacy at UNC. When UNC police ripped apart these markers on April 30, 2018, they destroyed the only memorials to Cates that existed on our campus.
The Honor Court, Board of Trustees, and Faculty Council have stood by idly as members of campus police, Derek Kemp, and Chancellor Folt continue to violate our First Amendment rights. How long will students be punished for demanding that black lives matter at UNC?
In 2015, another activist wrote “Who Is Sandra Bland?” on Silent Sam. It was a fitting addition to a statue christened by boasts about horsewhipping a black woman who had sought safety on university grounds. Not only did UNC fail to protect her, it bestowed an honorary degree upon her attacker, Julian Carr. To this day, he holds that honorific. He is memorialized in the names of a building I have taught in and the town that I live in. Those who speak up are silenced and targeted, but violence against people of color and women goes unpunished. That violence is then celebrated in the protection of monuments such as Silent Sam, Aycock Hall, and plaques to families including the Kenans, who built their wealth on enslaved black labor. These are the crimes I hoped to expose when I poured my own blood on Silent Sam. Now I ask, how will UNC’s Honor Court act? Will they preserve what Dr. King called “a negative peace, which is the absence of tension,” or will they stand for the rights of their peers fighting for racial equality?
It is time to truly uphold lux libertas, light and freedom, at UNC. Chancellor Folt, the Board of Governors, and Margaret Spellings have already shown their opposition to both. The student representatives of the Honor Court have chosen to investigate me, but they can still take this opportunity to act for free speech -- and against white supremacy.
The students of the Silent Sam Sit-In ask that the UNC Honor Court drop all charges against me for my protest of Silent Sam on April 30.
We ask that the proper disciplinary boards formally consider charges against university officials responsible for the continued surveillance and suppression of activists involved with protests against racist monuments.
We ask supporters to contact the Director of the Office of Student Conduct, Aisha Pridgen, at firstname.lastname@example.org and Graduate and Professional School Student Attorney General, Courtney Bain, at email@example.com to ask the Court to drop the charges against me.
We ask our supporters to demand an investigation by the Faculty Council of UNC Police, Derek Kemp, and Carol Folt for the undercover infiltration of our protest and the destruction of our signs. These actions constitute harassment, retribution, and silencing.
We ask our supporters to sign and circulate this petition demanding the Honor Court drop charges against me for my April 30th action.
As always, we ask our alumni supporters to withhold donations to the university until it removes Silent Sam and white supremacy from our campus.
I hope to see you all on August 20 at my criminal trial on a misdemeanor charge for which I could possibly spend 60 days in jail. In the face of these betrayals by officials tasked to protect us, we support each other. When one acts, we act together.
Maya Little, on behalf of the Silent Sam Sit In,
UNC Student and Graduate Worker
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