A black man from Detroit is suing three white women for making up lies about him to police in order to keep him away from a community park.
Marc Peeples said the women falsely accused him of crimes from July 2017 to May 2018 as he built a garden in Hunt Park and worked to improve the surrounding neighborhood.
Peeples alleges that the women — Deborah Nash, Martha Callahan and Jennifer Morris — had their own plans for the park and wanted to see him “incarcerated or seriously injured by law enforcement.”
The women told Detroit Police administrators in March 2018 that Peeples had stolen from houses near the park and threatened to burn down their homes and kill them, according to the lawsuit filed Feb. 25 in Wayne County Circuit Court.
Two months later, as Peeples was in Hunt Park teaching a group of homeschooled students about gardening, one of the women called 911 and falsely reported that Peeples was a convicted pedophile and wasn’t legally allowed near kids, the complaint said. Police arrested Peeples in the park.
The allegations led to Peeples being charged with three counts of stalking. As a condition of his bond, he was barred from park. The women removed or covered some of the improvements Peeples had put in place, according to the lawsuit.
A Wayne County Circuit Court judge eventually tossed the case. The judge said the three women harassed Peeples, according to a report in the Detroit Metro Times.
NBC News reported that Peeples and his attorney, Robert Burton-Harris, describe what happened as a case of “gardening while black.”
Nash, Callahan and Morris have unlisted phone numbers and could not be reached by the Free Press late Tuesday.
Nash told the New York Times in October that she called police because Peeples was damaging property.
“I am not a racist. I was all for the garden and even helped with supplies at first, but he threatened me several times, in person to my face, that I needed to leave my neighborhood or I would be put out one way or another,” she told the Times. “I called the police because he was destroying property in the neighborhood and painting graffiti. No one had the right to paint park trees.”
In the lawsuit, Peeples is seeking $300,000 in damages, plus costs and attorney fees.
A status conference has been scheduled for May 28.
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