Anti-Sheriff Mike Andrews signs popping up around Durham

A Durham man is taking his longstanding feud with the sheriff's office to the streets, literally.
April 9, 2014 4:21:20 PM PDT
A Durham man is taking his long-standing feud with the sheriff's office to the streets, literally.

Campaign signs are popping up all over the Bull City -- labeling incumbent Sheriff Mike Andrews as a criminal and a corrupt politician. It has motorists doing double takes.

When you are driving or walking past the courthouse, it is hard to miss the signs. The man who created them is not running for office, but he wants the sheriff out of office.

James Michael Lynch claims he was the victim of a theft that was never properly investigated by the Durham County Sheriff's Office. Now he is venting his frustration in bold red letters and a slash over the incumbent sheriff's face, calling him a criminal and a corrupt politician.

"I know I'm right. If I were wrong, I would go away immediately, and I'm not because I know I'm right," Lynch said.

It is not the first eye-catching sign, according to the city department that regulates them. In this case, Lynch is well within his rights.

"This is protected speech under the first amendment as long as it doesn't sell goods or services. It's permissible if it meets the standards," said Patrick Young, with the City Planning Department.

So does the car with an electronic sign and pictures that Lynch parked in the courthouse garage.

He says the fake bloody hand prints and shirt hanging from the trunk were Halloween decorations. Still, what is his ultimate message?

"I want the FBI and the SBI to do a criminal investigation and look at my facts and evidence to conduct a criminal investigation into the sheriff and his department," Lynch said.

In an email to the sheriff, Lynch offered to take down the signs, if investigators arrest the person he believes stole thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry from his home.

When ABC11 last spoke to Lynch, his complaint to remove the Durham district attorney was dismissed. He has taken his fight to the state court of appeals.

Most recently, he sought a restraining order against a sheriff's investigator, alleging his family was harassed. He says a judge denied the request.

Nevertheless, Lynch stands loud and clear -- just like his signs.

"You don't give up. That's what they count on. They want the citizen or the victim of the crime to just go away. If they tell them enough lies, they'll go away," Lynch said.

Through a spokesperson, the sheriff said he knows criticism comes with the job but he does not like the accusations.

"Despite Mr. Lynch's false accusations, his case remains open and the sheriff's office will pursue all credible leads in an effort to solve Mr. Lynch's case. However, the sheriff's office cannot, and will not, abuse its authority merely to appease one vocal individual who is upset with how his case has been handled," said Paul Sherwin, the Durham County Sheriff's spokesperson.

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