Crime

Silent Sam protester wants UNC chancellor, police chief to testify. The state says no.

Protester defaces Silent Sam Confederate statue at UNC

UNC grad student and activist Maya Little pours red paint on the "Silent Sam" Confederate statue on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, NC Monday, April 30, 2018.
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UNC grad student and activist Maya Little pours red paint on the "Silent Sam" Confederate statue on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, NC Monday, April 30, 2018.

The protester who doused the Silent Sam Confederate monument in blood and ink wants the UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor and police chief to testify at her upcoming trial, but the North Carolina attorney general is asking a judge to reject the request.

Maya Little was charged with defacing a public statue or monument, a misdemeanor, after she wiped her blood and red ink on Silent Sam on April 30. The act was broadcast on Facebook Live.

Little, a UNC student seeking a doctoral degree in history, is expected to go to trial Monday, according to Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall and Little’s attorney, Scott Holmes.

Before the trial moves forward, a judge will have to decide on N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein’s motion to quash Little’s request to require UNC-CH Chancellor Carol Folt and Police Chief Jeff McCracken to testify.

Folt and McCracken were served subpoenas Tuesday, according to court documents.

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt addresses the controversy surrounding the toppling of the Silent Sam Confederate monument on campus during a Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at the Paul Rizzo Conference Center in Chapel Hill.

Stein argued that Folt and McCracken didn’t have adequate notice, and appearing in court would create an unnecessary burden on two high-level officials with demanding schedules. He also said their appearance would require disclosure of protected or privileged information.

Chapel Hill Chief Chris Blue says police tactics during Silent Sam protests of "great concern."

“It would be extremely burdensome, costly, unreasonable and oppressive to take Folt and McCracken away from their critical primary responsibilities to appear at a criminal trial, particularly where they had no direct involvement and have no personal knowledge of the events,” Stein’s motion states.

Stein also argued the subpoenas were legally flawed.

“Extraordinary circumstances are necessary to compel testimony from high-ranking public officials,” as they have greater duties than other witnesses,” the motion says.

On Monday April 30, 2018, Maya Little defaced UNC-Chapel Hill's Confederate monument, Silent Sam, with her own blood and red ink. "He's covered in black blood...that's his foundation," Little said.

Folt was out of the country and didn’t return to North Carolina until 10 p.m. April 18, according to Stein. Folt has “numerous important meetings” throughout the day Monday, and McCracken has meetings scheduled a portion of the day, Stein said in the court motion.

If McCracken and Folt were required to testify, they could conceivably be subpoenaed for any criminal matter involving UNC, Stein wrote.

Protesters toppled Silent Sam, which had sat atop a pedestal on campus for 105 years, on Aug. 20, about four months after Little defaced the monument. Silent Sam protesters say the statue represents a racist past, while supporters say it’s a way to honor Southern heritage.

The statue remains in storage.

Holmes, an N.C. Central University law professor and supervising attorney of the school’s Civil Litigation Clinic, has been representing for free individuals charged in social movements for years as part of his private practice.

Some of his clients have been charged in protests associated with the Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter and Moral Monday.

He has also successfully represented individuals charged with leaving a toilet on the Governor’s mansion lawn in April 2016, bringing a weapon to a Durham anti-Confederacy rally and toppling a Confederate statue in Durham in August 2017, among other cases.

Before the Durham Confederate statue trials, Holmes sought to have Durham County commissioners testify.

The county objected, saying it was an undue burden for the elected officials, and District Court Judge Fred Battaglia Jr. ultimately agreed.

Holmes, however, was successful in getting his clients off as the judge dismissed charges against two of the defendants, citing a lack of evidence, and a third was found not guilty.

Following, Durham District Attorney Roger Echols dismissed the misdemeanor charges against the remaining five defendants.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges
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