Andrew Skinner, 23, who graduated from UNC earlier this year, said he was glad the statue fell in an illegal act.

“It shows that we have the power to be on the right side of history,” Skinner said. “We are part of a long tradition of civil rights in this country…..We as a country have a lot of change and a lot of healing to do, and we are not going to get there putting racism on a pedestal.”

Monday’s gathering started as a demonstration in support of a UNC graduate student who faces criminal and honor court charges for throwing red ink and blood on the Confederate statue in April. The downtown Franklin Street event quickly morphed into a march to the UNC campus, where police officers stood at the monument.