This morning, Durham City Council member Jillian Johnson posted the following on her personal Facebook page:
In that post, which circulated widely among politically active members of Durham’s Facebook community this morning, someone from Sheriff Mike Andrews’s re-election Facebook page appears to say “Amen, Bobby!” to a comment from a man warning people not to “apathetically sit home on your tails … as city block voters immigrants and minorities will FLOCK to the polls.” (In context, “
voters” could mean “black voters.”) He continues: “THEN the city special interests will vote out the old… and man … you won’t like the ethic takeover new.” (Again, in context, “ethic takeover” could mean “ethnic takeover.”)
Andrews—who has faced questions throughout this campaign about deaths in the county jail, his handling of the Confederate statue toppling, and his department’s cozy relationship with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement—faces Clarence Birkhead in today’s election. Birkhead has been endorsed by the INDY and the People’s Alliance.
Reached by phone via the number on his Facebook page, Bobby Cheatham told the INDY he doesn’t use Facebook much, then hung up. When the INDY called back, he said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and said to stop calling him.
The post appears to have been deleted. Andrews did not respond to the INDY’s phone calls and an email seeking comment. Several people have posted similar screenshots of the comment thread on Andrews’s Facebook page and asked for an explanation, but so far none has been forthcoming.
Andrews did, however, tell the Herald-Sun that he did not post that comment, though someone else on his team did.
From the Herald-Sun: “Andrews said that one of the page’s moderators who was supposed to schedule events posted to comment. The person, one of three moderators on the page including Andrews, wasn’t supposed to be commenting on posts, Andrews said. The person is no longer a moderator. Andrews said the post is embarrassing and disappointing considering he has tried to run a clean campaign and it doesn’t reflect his values. … ‘I do not agree with it in any form or fashion,’ Andrews said.”
Update: Andrews has issued the following statement on his Facebook page:
Additional reporting by Nick Gallagher.