UNC Gave Racists $2.5 Million To Settle A Lawsuit That Hadn't Been Filed Yet, And The Racists Are Abusing The DMCA To Hide The Details

from the buckle-in dept

Last Wednesday, right before Thanksgiving, some very odd news broke about the University of North Carolina giving the Sons of Confederate Veterans $2.5 million and a bullshit confederate statue that had been torn down by protesters in 2018. The Sons of Confederate Veterans have a history of promoting racist ideas and movements, with a special focus on promoting Confederate monuments and symbols -- symbols of support for slavery from a bunch of literal traitors -- as well as promoting historical revisionism about the US Civil War. Contrary to the belief of some, those monuments -- including the one at UNC -- were put up many years after the Civil War, and were frequently put in place as a show of racist attitudes and beliefs, not as a historical remembrance. There's a reason so many places are choosing to take those down.

The NY Times story linked above had some oddities in it. It claims that UNC's Board of Governors agreed to hand the "Silent Sam" statue over to the group and give them $2.5 million, perhaps to build a museum to house the statue, to settle a lawsuit. But what lawsuit? And what possible standing could the Sons of Confederate Veterans have to sue over a statue it did not own and had no direct relationship with? There was one line that really stood out to me in the original story:

R. Kevin Stone, the commander of the Confederate group, said the settlement was fair. He said that his group was in possession of the statue at an “undisclosed location.”

He did not know specifically when his group had sued the university but said that negotiations had been going on for months.

The leader of the group doesn't know when they sued the University? Huh? It turns out that the same sentence caught the attention of tenacious lawyer, and producer of epic (and often impossible to follow) Twitter threads, Greg Doucette, who decided to investigate. Doucette discovered that the lawsuit was filed... Wednesday. Not some Wednesday in the past, but last Wednesday. The same day that the lawsuit was settled. And, even more insane? The UNC Board of Governors met an hour before they were served with the lawsuit to approve the settlement. That's... not how this is supposed to work. And then, UNC immediately filed an answer to the lawsuit, and then a settlement "consent judgment" was entered, and signed off on by the judge -- all on the day before Thanksgiving, all within a few hours. Oh, and as Doucette points out, the judge who signed off on the settlement, Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour, happens to be a UNC and UNC Law alum.

Doucette even points out that the University sent out a press release about the settlement before the lawsuit even existed. Which is... very, very odd.

Still, that's not usual Techdirt fare. What makes it worthy of Techdirt is what happened this week. Doucette has continued his digging (and continued to lengthen his Twitter thread). He went to the courthouse to scan all the court documents related to the lawsuit. He posted all of the documents to a Dropbox folder. Except, if you go to that link as I type this you see this:

What happened? The Sons of Confederate Veterans sent a bogus DMCA takedown notice to Dropbox, claiming that it violated their copyright. Their copyright on public court filings. I am assuming that Dropbox will get this sorted out fairly quickly, but all of this may make you wonder just why would such an organization file a completely bogus takedown notice to hide documents in their own damn lawsuit?

It seems what really, really pissed off the Sons of the Confederate Veterans was that Doucette had posted the "victory statement" which literally has the leader of this group giving away the entire game plan, including flat out admitting that they had no case at all, and everyone he spoke to agreed that any case would get thrown out of court:

As to option one, having the memorial restored to McCorkle Place at UNC, we have been trying for over a year to find a way to bring suit against UNC, the UNC Board of Trustees, and the UNC Board of Governors, and anyone personally, like Carol Folt, who could be held responsible. As we have mentioned dozens of times, despite consulting every known legal source, including those parties who have had success with SCV suits in Virginia and Tennessee, we could not get past the issue in North Carolina law of legal standing in the Silent Sam case so to bring a suit. Even if we had filed suit, our complaint would have been challenged and dismissed immediately without result. After extensive consultation (with judges, retired judges, etc.), we were 100% certain that this would be the outcome.

It also admits that the group and UNC had spent months negotiating this "deal" in secret, fearing that any media leak would torpedo the deal.

Prior to this point, we could not mention ANY of this to you at meetings or over the Tar Heel email list because all negotiations were required to be 100% confidential. For their part, knowledge by the media, the leftists, UNC faculty, and even other members of the Board not privy to the negotiations that their leadership was working with the SCV would have torpedoed the whole thing. On our part, with a minority of disgruntled and impatient members in our ranks, and those who have admitted that they gladly share information with our enemies, there was a very distinct risk that loose and uninformed talk would have ended the whole thing, and that nothing would be accomplished. A breach of this confidentiality would have killed the whole deal. This is why we could not share extensive details until now.

The statement also notes that it will reveal "more details than I will be giving the media and others," and boy does it ever. He more or less gloats over the fact that the University is literally paying them for this.

What we have accomplished is something that I never dreamed we could accomplish in a thousand years and all at the expense of the University itself. This is a major strategic victory, and I look forward to continuing to move the Division forward.

There's a lot more in the ongoing thread (as there always in Doucette's rather epic threads), but for the purposes of Techdirt, we'd just like to call out yet another example of how the DMCA is abused for censorship once again -- and how that sometimes backfires and helps draw a lot more attention to whatever it is that people are trying to hide (there's a name for that somewhere...).

What's truly hilarious about this whole thing is that, according to that "victory statement," part of the reason why UNC was so eager to do this deal was to... avoid bad publicity. That also explains why all of this went down the day before Thanksgiving. That strategy doesn't seem to be working out quite as intended, though.

Filed Under: censorship, confederate statues, copyright, dmca, north carolina, racists, silent sam, unc board of governors
Companies: sons of confederate veterans, unc


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 9:35am

    "Grand Wizard" is all you need to know you're dealing with a bunch of assclowns.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Dec 2019 @ 4:59am

      Re:

      ""Grand Wizard" is all you need to know you're dealing with a bunch of assclowns."

      You've got something against tabletop rpg gamers?

      Oh, wait, you meant the Klan...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 9:40am

    Looks like they step in something other than tar.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 3 Dec 2019 @ 9:55am

    A corrupt judge helping a corrupt board to help a racist group.
    Yep, North Carolina.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AnonyCog, 3 Dec 2019 @ 12:14pm

      Re:

      Having a judge sign off on embezzling money from taxpayers and students is still embezzlement and theft by deception and fraud.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glen, 3 Dec 2019 @ 9:57am

    This also shows why cloud storage isn't really that great of an idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wyrm (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 10:33am

      Re:

      It is.
      However, you need to consider 1. the purpose and 2. the policy of the specific service you use. In this case, you have to consider that you want to use it for broadcasting, so you must consider a service that resists illegitimate DMCA requests. Or at least won't hold a "strike" against you after the DMCA claims proves to be unfounded.
      As a personal storage backup, cloud services are a good option, but even then it should not be your primary storage.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 10:39am

      Re:

      This also shows why cloud storage isn't really that great of an idea.

      unless you have local backups, that is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 10:13am

    The 4-page letter is available with the local newspaper arcticle. https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article237966919.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 10:16am

    Racists gonna race

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 10:24am

    Half wit

    It looks like SCV was smart enough to realize that their scam needed to avoid publicity in order for it to work, but apparently they weren't smart enough to take their own advice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 11:11am

    SPLC, a group that needs to clean up its own house first.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 11:14am

    REALLY?

    "and everyone he spoke to agreed that any case would get thrown out of court: "

    OK, who believes this?
    With a couple of persons in the right place, not accounting to law, can get anything done. Right or Wrong.

    And a University that has an EXTRA 2.5 million, According to the Other universities, is Very good..at taking peoples money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 11:56am

    I can show far worse examples of judges who favor their former schools or schools at which they teach. Precedent seems to indicate that this is acceptable as there have been many rulings that deal with it.

    This will never change. The system won't allow it to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 11:59am

    Better a single settlement than a precedent that opens the floodgates, I'd imagine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 1:56pm

      Re:

      No, settling is what draws the vultures. Now that UNC has shown they'll capitulate to baseless threats, every vulture in the state is going to jump on them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 4:30pm

      Re:

      The losers in question flat out admitted that they had no case, so barring a judge that recently took a headfirst trip down several flights of stairs the only 'precedent' that would have been set would be the losers getting laughed out of court.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Zof (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 11:59am

    Censorship is bad

    Unless Google does it. Then it's moderation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 12:17pm

      Re: Censorship is bad

      Good thing that neither of those concepts is relevant here, then.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 12:23pm

      Re: Why you still here?

      Do you ever tire of being a shithouse liar bro?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 12:27pm

      Re: Censorship is bad

      If it’s under color of law (that is, not removing it has legal consequences), then it’s censorship, and it’s (usually) wrong). When Google moderates stuff, it’s not using the law to enforce its decisions; it’s using the fact that it owns and directly controls the services and servers to enforce its decisions.

      Demanding something be removed via the DMCA for non-copyright purposes (even if there is copyright infringement going on) is censorship. Removing the content yourself (rather than demanding someone else do so under legal pressure) of your own volition (rather than to comply with the law) because you find it objectionable is not generally “bad censorship” but moderation.

      Also, when has Google removed something itself for wholly improper reasons?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 1:26pm

      Re: Censorship is bad

      Is this the best you can do? It's just so underwhelming and impotent.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 2:48pm

      Re: Censorship is bad

      So you survived Shaken Baby Syndrome. Good for you!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 12:18pm

    So now i wonder who has standing to sue UNC for this bullshit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 2:35pm

    Dropbox link already dead. Anybody manage to get the docs?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 3:27pm

    I somewhat doubt the link existed to begin with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 4:27pm

    That's not shooting your foot, that's blowing it off

    What's truly hilarious about this whole thing is that, according to that "victory statement," part of the reason why UNC was so eager to do this deal was to... avoid bad publicity. That also explains why all of this went down the day before Thanksgiving. That strategy doesn't seem to be working out quite as intended, though.

    Because taking a bunch of losers to court, losers that have admitted that they would have been laughed out of court because they had no gorram case, would have provided worse publicity than rolling over like gutless worms and giving them $2.5 million?

    The admin that were involved are either so pathetically easy to pressure that they need to be removed before they hand over the entire freakin' campus due to someone threatening to tell their mom on them, or are sympathetic to the losers and decided this would be a great way to help them out. In either case public mockery and removal from their positions strikes me as entirely appropriate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2019 @ 5:04pm

    Of course they'd use the DMCA. Copyright law is viable for everything from shutting down criticism to unclogging the drain. /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Glenn, 3 Dec 2019 @ 7:20pm

    The most revisionist history ever created is The Bible--good luck trying to get its believers to change their minds.

    Just because you don't agree with them doesn't mean you have the right to tell them what heritage they're allowed celebrate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 9:13pm

    Payoff might be justified to avoid political row

    Both sides knew the SCV lawsuit would lose, but the trustees might, for rational reasons, have decided to make it go away. UNC is dependent on State appropriations, and while the Governor is a Democrat, the House of Representatives is controlled by conservative Republicans whose voting base take monument disputes seriously.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 3 Dec 2019 @ 9:56pm

      Re: Payoff might be justified to avoid political row

      Though $2.5 million for an SCV exhibition site sounds rather steep. A more reasonable exhibition site might be at a Civil War cemetery or battlefield.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 4 Dec 2019 @ 12:23pm

      The counter-PR just writes itself...

      'After fighting a bunch of racist losers in court who wanted us to give them $2.5 million our funding, as decided by the state house of representatives, was mysteriously and purely by coincidence notably reduced. Make of that what you will.'

      That might have flown locally, but if they were smart(clearly not the case) any attempt to 'punish' them for standing up to a pack of losers likely would have turned the politicians in question into national laughingstocks.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2019 @ 2:42am

    Stinks to high heaven

    claims that UNC's Board of Governors agreed to hand the "Silent Sam" statue over to the group and give them $2.5 million, perhaps to build a museum to house the statue, to settle a lawsuit.

    So, to avoid some negative press (or whatever, embarassment?) that may have come out during a law suit which was certain to be dismissed UNC hands over a statue and 2.5 million to bunch of white supremecists (aka people who are proud to be the decendents of people who fought to keep dark skinned slaves enslaved).

    I seriously do not understand politics in North Carolina.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2019 @ 6:22am

    University of Nazi Confederates

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.