On August 20, 2018, a mob destroyed a Confederate war memorial on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Known as Silent Sam, the statue was 105 years old and honored UNC students that fought in the Civil War.
Eighteen people have been arrested in connection with the night of vandalism and subsequent protests. Of those arrested, one is an associate professor at UNC Chapel Hill. So, who are the other individuals and groups responsible for this egregious act of total disregard for the rule of law?
This week, WRAL reported an updated list of the names of the arrested along with their charges and the date of their alleged crimes.
One alleged vandal is Raul Arce Jimenez, who is charged with misdemeanor riot and misdemeanor defacing of a public monument in connection with the August 20th destruction of the statue. Some news sources are calling him an organizer of the rally.
Jimenez appears to have a history with these types of mob-style acts of vandalism. Earlier this year, Jimenez was found not guilty on charges related to the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham.
Additionally, Jimenez has ties to an array of Left-leaning groups in North Carolina that are featured in the Civitas Mapping the Left project. One group, the Youth Organizing Institute (YOI), still lists Jimenez as one of its two co-directors. YOI receives funding from the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation and the Proteus Fund. YOI’s parent organization, the Southern Vision Alliance, receives funds from prominent progressive donors such as the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.
Jimenez’s rationalization the vandalism of the monuments is best expressed in his own words. In one interview with Fox News, he said, “if they are upset with the way the community took action, they should look for a way to reverse that law passed in 2015 protecting those monuments.” Fox also quotes Jimenez as saying the toppling of the monument was a “righteous act of people power.”
This is an incredibly dangerous mindset that abandons the rule of law in favor of mob rule. Our legal processes are in place for a reason; they provide legitimate outlets for citizens to express their grievances. Our state is a diverse place. One small group should not be allowed to completely disregard the will of their fellow citizens, as expressed through their elected government representatives, just because they are able to rally the brute force necessary to make their desired change.
When people or groups decide to circumvent the established forums for public discourse, based on some illusion of righteousness, where do we draw the line? Is any crime excusable if it is motivated by a criminal’s genuinely held belief in its righteousness?
There are fringe radicals on either side of the ideological spectrum. But in a society that glorifies “social justice warriors” and their tantrum-like behaviors, the Silent Sam incident should raise red flags. Will the Leftist establishment, with which Jimenez is tied, condemn his alleged actions? Or are we moving towards a society that rewards vigilantes who take “justice” into their own hands?