Candidate Closes in on Yard Sign Thief in District 5 Council Race
(APN) ATLANTA — Interested parties are closing in on the yard sign thief in the Atlanta City Council District 5 race, where yard signs have been disappearing for the reelection campaign of Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong.
Archibong faces three challengers in the race including Christian Enterkin, John Paul Michalik, and Matt Rinker. Erstwhile challenger Jon Jones has dropped out of the race and endorsed Archibong, as previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News.
On October 16, 2013 Jeffrey Landers, a supporter of Archibong, posted a video to Youtube of security footage showing a young, White female stealing an Archibong yard sign from a private home in Atlanta’s Reynoldstown neighborhood.
APN has posted the video on the APN Video Section here:
Earlier today, October 22, candidate Michalik contacted APN to say that he was meeting a friend at the ParkGrounds coffee shop in east Atlanta.
While there, Michalik told APN he overheard the barista–whom he identified as a one hundred percent match of the woman in the video–admitting to a customer that she stole the yard sign.
According to Michalik, the barista said she was surprised that people were “making such a big deal” about the stolen yard sign, and said that she would steal more yard signs.
Michalik told APN he brought the incident to the attention of the owner of the coffeeshop, John Gianoulidis.
Gianoulidis told APN he was familiar with the matter, wanted to confer with the employee about the possibility of her coming forward and returning any stolen yard signs, and would not make any comment until that happened.
Michalik provided APN with a photograph of the barista taken from the Facebook page of the ParkGrounds coffeeshop, and the barista does look like the woman in the video.
According to a source familiar with the matter, the barista had an accomplice, her girlfriend.
According to the source, they were just young “knuckleheads” who did not know any better, and the sign theft was not politically motivated.
APN also has the names of the apparent sign thief and the accomplice.
The apparent sign thief is considering coming forward to turn herself in and apologize in the near future. She did not call APN by press time this evening.
Previously, APN had contacted Enterkin, Jones, Michalik, and Rinker in separate emails, and each denied recognizing the yard sign thief in any way.
“I do not recognize the individual in the video. Furthermore, no one associated with my campaign has touched any signs of my opponents. We are focused on the real issues facing the hard working residents of District 5,” Enterkin wrote.
“I don’t recognize the person,” Rinker wrote, adding, “This person is not part of our campaign nor do we condone this activity. Several supporters of my campaign have woken up to their yard signs missing as well.”
“She does not look familiar. Glad they had cameras,” Michalik wrote in an email to APN, the day before discovering that she works as a barista down the street from where the sign was stolen.
In a comment posted to Facebook, Archibong responded to the yard sign theft. “Over the past few weeks I have been contacted by many of you about the negative campaign tactics of some of my opponents. Up until now, I have been silent because I recognize an individual’s right to run for public office, and respect the hard work of challengers to get their message out,” she wrote.
“But when the rights of our neighbors are violated, because of who they support, I must say enough is enough. I have recently been made aware of a video that shows–what has been reported as–one of my opponent’s team members criminally trespassing on a neighbor’s private property to steal an Archibong yard sign. Perhaps, even more egregious is their attempt to suppress the first Amendment rights of our neighbors,” Archibong wrote.
“We have worked too hard to get District 5 where it is today. Though there is still work to be done, there are few who can argue with our progress. When I committed to run for re-election, my decision was based on my record and commitment to serve—not fear tactics and politically charged moves to suppress the rights of our neighbors!” Archibong wrote.
“District 5, it has been an honor to serve you. The protection of your rights is very important to me, and I will not tolerate the violation of them by political detractors! Thank you, again, for your support. I look forward to continuing the journey we started together twelve years ago,” Archibong wrote.
Archibong tells APN that in a separate incident, some of her supporters in the Edgewood neighborhood got the license plate number from a car associated with a person who they say they witnessed stealing yard signs in Edgewood.
Archibong said the information has been turned in to the police and she is waiting for additional information.