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3 charged with toppling Confederate statue at University of North Carolina

WATCH: Supporters and opponents faced off Saturday at UNC Chapel Hill, where police arrested at least 7 people. The rally comes after Monday's toppling of the UNC Confederate monument known as "Silent Sam."

University of North Carolina police charged three people in connection with the toppling of a Confederate soldier statue on the Chapel Hill campus, an official said on Friday, while a rally to protest the statue’s removal Saturday resulted in the arrest of seven people.

At a gathering on Monday, protesters used a rope to pull down the statue known as Silent Sam, erected in 1913 to honour soldiers of the pro-slavery Confederacy killed during the Civil War.

READ MORE: Analysis: Removing Confederate symbols won’t fix America’s race and inequality issues

Each of the three people face misdemeanor charges of riot and defacing of a public monument, university police spokesman Randy Young said in an emailed statement.

The three are not affiliated with the University of North Carolina, Young said. A police investigation may result in additional arrests.

Saturday, about a dozen people carrying Confederate flags gathered at the University of North Carolina to protest the removal of the statue, and were met by dozens of counter-protesters.

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Television footage and videos posted to social media showed several punches thrown and at least one man handcuffed after he tried to burn a Confederate flag taken from another man’s hands.

University officials say seven people were arrested on charges ranging from assault to destruction of property and resisting an officer. Their names were not released.

The removal of the statue was part of a movement to dismantle U.S. Civil War symbols that critics say glorify the South’s legacy of slavery. Many Americans see statues such as Silent Sam as symbols of racism and a glorification of the South’s defense of the institution of slavery. Supporters view the memorials as important symbols of American history.

READ MORE: Protesters haul down ‘Silent Sam’ memorial to Confederate soldiers at University of North Carolina

Some students and others have received threats because of Monday’s events, the university said.

University police reviewed video on Tuesday to identify the protesters who toppled the statue.

The UNC system board chair, Harry Smith Jr., and president, Margaret Spellings, denounced the toppling of the statue.

The university will reinstall Silent Sam within 90 days as required by North Carolina law, UNC system board member Thom Goolsby said in a statement on Thursday.

Last year UNC students threatened to sue the school, alleging that the university violated federal anti-discrimination laws by allowing the statue to remain on campus.

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Campus police arrested at least one person at Monday’s protest for wearing a mask and resisting arrest. The person arrested was not one of the three people charged, Young said.

With files from AP