The statue is the latest among several Confederate monuments to be removed, and its toppling comes as communities grapple with the legacy of a contentious chapter in American history.
A video and pictures from a student show the statue coming down on Monday as students chant, “I believe that we will win.”
In a statement Tuesday morning, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt said she appreciates the actions taken by police to ensure the campus community’s safety during Monday’s demonstration.
“Last night’s actions were unlawful and dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured,” Folt said in an open letter posted on the school’s official website. “The police are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage.”
The statue came down around 9:20 p.m. ET on the eve of the first day of classes, the university said.
One person was arrested, UNC spokeswoman Kate Luck told CNN.
“The charges are for concealing one’s face during a public rally and resisting arrest,” Luck said.
“The Governor understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change and he shares their frustration, but violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities,” the statement read.
Students and faculty had called for Silent Sam’s removal
After Monday’s protest, Chancellor Folt said the statue was a longstanding source of division for students, staff and alumni alike.
“The monument has been divisive for years, and its presence has been a source of frustration for many people, not only on our campus, but throughout the community,” she said Tuesday morning.
“The faculty of the Department of History urges the officers of UNC and other state officials to pursue every avenue to remove the ‘Silent Sam’ monument,” the statement read. “From its inception, the monument was exclusionary and offered a highly selective interpretation of the nation’s history … The monument will continue to promote malicious values that have persisted too long on this campus, in this state, and in this nation.”
Supporters of Silent Sam, see the statue differently, though. Dorothy Holloway told WTVD in May that she saw Silent Sam as “guarding the college.”
“Why take him out? Who has it hurt?” she said.
Gov. Cooper issued a statement last year calling for the removal of more Confederate monuments. He said state lawmakers should repeal a 2015 law that prevents the removal or relocation of monuments so local governments and the state will have the authority to decide.
A state agency has been asked to determine the costs of removing Confederate monuments from state property and find alternative spots for their placement, Cooper said.
Not the first Confederate monuments to come down
CNN’s Dave Alsup, Joe Sutton, Amanda Jackson and Keith Allen contributed to this report.