Local News

Duplin County man's gallows display draws criticism

Posted June 17, 2009 11:52 p.m. EDT
Updated June 18, 2009 10:22 a.m. EDT

— A huge front-yard display near Faison is getting a lot of attention, and some say for the wrong reasons. Lacy Phipps and his son constructed a gallows and hung mannequins representing government officials.

“I don't want to hurt anybody, physically. I just want them to realize how corrupt the system is,” Phipps said.

Phipps says he put up the display to bring attention to his problems with the government, such as land disputes with neighbors and the way the murder of another son, William Phipps, was handled.

“It's so surreal with the robes and names. You know, I think that crosses the line,” Duplin County District Attorney Dewey Hudson said.

Hudson is one of the officials represented in the display.

“I'm not going down over there. At night, if I had car trouble, I wouldn't go knock on their door,” Hudson said.

Hudson said his office and numerous other law enforcement agencies are looking into pressing charges against Phipps. The issue is balancing the First Amendment with the effect the display has, Hudson said.

“Obviously, whoever did that is trying to intimidate judges,” Hudson said.

Hudson said it is clear Phipps believes there is a conspiracy against his family.

“But I'm not ashamed of it because it's fact,” Phipps said.

William Phipps was shot and killed in 1995. The man charged with the crime was found not guilty.