Farmer Marc Peeples was accused of joining a drive-by shooting and being a pedophile leading to a case a judge called ridiculous
Throughout 2017 and early 2018, three white women in Detroit accused Marc Peeples, a black urban farmer, of a range of serious crimes. Among other allegations, they reported to police that he was brandishing a gun, participated in a drive-by shooting targeting one of their homes, and was a convicted pedophile.
That final accusation, made in May as Peeples and several home-schooled children worked in an urban garden near the womens homes, led to his arrest and stalking charges.
However, a judge found the womens accusations to be untrue and tossed the criminal case. At the October hearing, Judge E Lynise Bryant called the case ridiculous and disgusting, and admonished police and prosecution for moving forward with it.
Now, Peeples is suing the three women Deborah Nash, Martha Callahan and Jennifer Morris and asking for $300,000 in damages.
Though Peeples defense was successful, he lost his garden and his work contracts, and had to pay for defense attorneys and for bond to get out of jail. He added that the case took an emotional toll and left him humiliated by the accusations when, in fact, all he had been doing was gardening while black.
The women made false reports, lied under oath and had engaged in a very targeted and constant harassment of the young man that was racially motivated, Bryant said at the time of the original case.
In a complaint filed last week, Peeples and his attorney Robert Burton-Harris allege that the women knowingly fabricated all of [their] allegations and acted intentionally and concertedly to cause Marc economic harm and emotional distress. Their behavior was extreme, malicious, wanton, and outrageous, the complaint continues.
The confrontation was one of dozens like it in 2018 in which white authorities or bystanders confronted black people for doing something benign or mundane while going about their daily lives.
In some cases, white accusers have faced consequences. Permit Patty, who called the police on an eight-year-old black girl selling water in San Francisco, resigned from a cannabis company she founded. Pool Patrol Paula in South Carolina pleaded guilty to assault charges after attacking a 15-year-old black boy who she felt didnt belong in a community pool.
But most others, like BBQ Becky, who in April called the police over two black men grilling in an Oakland park, or a white Yale student who reported a black student napping in a dorm common area, have faced little consequence beyond ridicule.
Peeples said the lack of accountability was part of what motivated him to file a suit.
People make it a joke and make up these nicknames, but lives have been destroyed and lives have been lost for these reasons, he said. Very recently, you have people in prison because Europeans have lied simply because they didnt like the color of someones skin. Its my duty to show them that I will not be intimidated.
The women also made the false charges at a time when there have been a series of high-profile police killings of unarmed black men. Burton-Harris wrote in the complaint that the womens goal was to get Marc incarcerated or seriously injured by law enforcement.
I dont think for a moment that these three ladies were unaware of the consequences that could have arose from making false police reports, Burton-Harris said.
Peeples first built a small urban garden in 2017 in a then-vacant, overgrown Detroit park called Hunt Park. Aside from building the garden, which he calls Liberated Farms, he mowed neighboring senior citizens lawns, picked up trash, boarded up vacant houses, and made other improvements to the area.
The three women, who could not be reached for comment, live nearby. The suit alleges the women had their own plans for the park and sought permission from the city to adopt it and implement their own projects .
Among the allegations, Nash claimed that in 2017 and 2018 Peeples threatened to kill her and burn down her house.
The women also said Peeples painted red, green, and black gang colors on vacant houses and trees in the park. Burton-Harris pointed out in court that those were pan-African colors.
In March 2018, Nash told the Detroit police Peeples was in the park with a gun. The department dispatched six officers to the scene, but they only found Peeples raking leaves and cleaning a vacant lot.
In body camera footage, an officer is heard labeling the call BS.
Aint no law against raking leaves, the officer is heard stating on body camera footage.
Finally, in May, Callahan called the police as Peeples worked in the garden with children. She reported that he was a pedophile who wasnt supposed to be around children. Burton-Harris wrote in the complaint that the charge was totally invented and completely baseless.
A GoFundMe page set up for Peeples in October raised over $53,000, some of which is being used to build a bigger garden with expanded programming for school children. Though the garden is within sight of the womens homes, Peeples said he was determined to continue working there.
If I leave the park, thats a victory for them, Peeples said. If youre going to make up lies and try to get me to leave the park, then I wont leave the park. Im going to continue with the garden, continue to do my programming, and paint as much red, black and green as I can all over the park.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us