As the national fight to remove racist Confederate monuments forged on last year, two neo-Nazi vandals desecrated a monument that commemorated the enslaved Africans responsible for building the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC).
In March 2019, Ryan Barnett and Nancy McCorkle thought it was an excellent idea to scribble “Racist—f—–s—n—-r,” “Confederate lives matter!!!” and “F–k this monument!!! Destroy this monument to racism!!!” on the Unsung Founders Memorial located at an outside location on UNC’s campus. The memorial was built in 2005.
Earlier this month, North Carolina district court Judge Lunsford Long found Barnett and McCorkle guilty of vandalism. The pair of vandals faced injury to real property charges for their role in the desecration of the campus staple. The crime is a first-class misdemeanor. Ryan Barnett was also found guilty of indecent exposure and public urination. The public urination charge would have been dismissed if not for the prosecution. Prosecutor Billy Massengale pointed out that Barnett had indicated the liquid on the Unsung Founders Memorial was urine.
Barnett and McCorkle also faced ethnic intimidation charges. However, Judge Long dismissed the charges against the defendants because he stated the North Carolina statute only specified “a person” could be the victim of property damage or assault on color, religion, nationality, race, and country of origin.
“My belief is they are not guilty of ethnic intimidation,” Long said. “I think they intended to intimidate a whole race of people, not a person.”
The assumption of innocence based on their intentions on targeting a group of people versus one person is an “interesting” analysis.
Ryan Barnett is an Air Force veteran who served in Afghanistan in 2013.
Nancy McCorkle is the grandmother of two biracial children. according to her attorney. He stated, “She has a very positive relationship with African Americans.”
Barnett and McCorkle were sentenced to 200 hours of community service, a $500 fine each, and they are required to reimburse UNC for the cost to repair the damage done to the memorial. Barnett was fined an additional $100 for indecent exposure and public urination. The lenient sentence also included unsupervised probation for 18 months. If they violate probation, they could serve up to 90 days in jail.