Orange County judge reopens courtroom to public for Silent Sam protest cases

Several people charged in protests of the Silent Sam Confederate statue had their cases resolved Friday in Orange County District Court, where a judge barred the public from entering the courtroom during the morning hours.

At least two people were found guilty of his charges, while others were given amnesty or found not guilty.

Judge Lunsford Long closed the small courtroom to everyone except defendants, court officials and law enforcement until the afternoon session resumed. A sheriff’s deputy posted at the door checked identification cards against a list of names.

The mood was calm and friendly in the hall as protesters and reporters chatted and watched the procession in and out of the courtroom. A lone, older woman sat on a chair in the corner knitting a blue-and-gray shawl from a large ball of yarn in her bag.

A deputy said the courtroom was closed earlier because seating is limited. A sign posted in the courtroom listed a maximum capacity of 53 people. Twenty-one defendants were on Friday’s docket.

The judge found Ian Broadhead, 28, guilty of misdemeanor charges of resisting a public officer and concealing his face during a public rally. Broadhead was given a prayer for judgment continued, which means he won’t be punished for his crimes.

Julia Pulawski, 30, also was found guilty of misdemeanor charges of resisting a public officer and assault on a campus police officer. Her sentence was not immediately available, but her attorney said they will appeal the case.

Jody Anderson, 21, was found not guilty of a misdemeanor charge of assault on a government official.

At least three others were given a deferred prosecution, or amnesty, if they complete community service and pay $180 in court costs:

Lillian Price, 20: Charged with misdemeanor injury to personal property

Mary Rosen, 23: Charged with misdemeanor resisting a public officer

Jayna Fishman, 22: Charged with misdemeanor assault on a campus police officer

Other cases were continued to a future date, including four defendants charged in connection with the toppling of the controversial statue at UNC-Chapel Hill on Aug. 20. The case was also continued for UNC graduate student activist Maya Little, who is facing misdemeanor charges of assaulting a government official and causing a public disturbance at a December rally.

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Little previously was charged with vandalism after pouring red ink and her own blood on the statue in April. She was found guilty but not punished. A UNC honor court decided to give Little a warning letter and 18 hours of community service. She walked out of the hearing over one panelist’s social media criticism of protesters, and appealed the case.

Nine prior Silent Sam cases also have been resolved.

Friday’s hearings wrapped up a drama-filled week for the university campus, beginning Monday with UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt’s decision to resign and remove the statue.

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The founder of Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County (ACTBAC), a pro-Confederate monument group, was charged Monday night as UNC workers removed the statue’s base from McCorkle Place.

Gary Williamson, 39, was charged with misdemeanor resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer and issued a warning of trespass from McCorkle Place. He is the 30th person charged since Aug. 20.

On Tuesday, the UNC system Board of Governors said Folt would leave Jan. 31, instead of after the spring semester as she announced Monday.

The statue is expected to remain in storage pending a March 15 report on its possible future. The board rejected a December recommendation that UNC build a $5.3 million university history center that also could house the statue.

Silent Sam protesters threw a party Tuesday at the town’s Peace and Justice Plaza, near McCorkle Place, to celebrate Folt’s decisions.

It was the latest of nearly a dozen protests and rallies on campus or at the plaza since August. Many more rallies were held at the Chapel Hill and Orange County courthouses in support of those charged at the protests.

Staff writer Jane Stancill contributed to this report.

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Tammy Grubb has written about Orange County’s politics, people and government since 2010. She is a UNC-Chapel Hill alumna and has lived and worked in the Triangle for over 25 years.