Add beautifying your community to the list of things that you cannot do in peace if you’re Black. Marc Peeples, a Black man, had taken it upon himself to construct a community garden in a vacant playground in his Detroit neighborhood only to have three white women repeatedly call the police on him, making serious allegations that could have threatened his life.
According to the Detroit Metro Times, the incident unfolded throughout 2017 into early 2018. Peeples believe that the women – whom he identified on GoFundMe as Deborah Nash, Jennifer Morris and Martha Callahan – did not like his project in the park that was located across the street from Nash’s home.
The women began to call the police about him, but after the police wouldn’t respond to allegations of illegal gardening (like, how, Sway), the women escalated their behavior, accusing Peeples of serious allegations. At one point the women accused Peeples of threatening Nash with a gun in the park, in another incident they accused him of taking part in a drive-by shooting. In another particularly horrific incident, the women waited until Peeples had children with him working in the garden and accused him of being a pedophile.
Ultimately the Detroit Police Department and Wayne County Prosecutors Office filed charges against Peeples, writing him up on three counts of stalking.
Thankfully, 36th District Court Judge E. Lynise Bryant agreed with Peeples and his attorney, Robert Burton0Harris, who argued that most of the allegations were false and that Peeple’s only crime was “gardening while Black.”
“[The three white women] should be sitting at the defendant’s table for stalking and harassment charges, not Mr. Peeples,” Judge Bryant said at a hearing. “This is disgusting and a waste of the court’s time and resources,” she added before granting the defense’s motion for a directed verdict, which ended the case before it went in front of a jury.”
Bryant told the Metro Times that she discovered that the women had filed false reports, were the ones who initiated contact with Peeples in the first place and “engaged in a very targeted and constant harassment of the young man” which she believes was racially motivated.
“It was blatant racism. They didn’t like the fact that a Black man was in so-called ‘their’ neighborhood without their permission,” Peeples said, noting that the fall out from the case resulted in him having to pay $3,500 to get out on bond, in addition for paying for his attorneys and having his name sullied. His friend started a GoFundMe for that reason, to help him cover the costs.
“It’s frustrating to have accusations placed on you with no merit, and they get you all the way into court to go to trial,” Peeples added. “If someone believed their story and I was found guilty, I would be in county jail doing up to a year just because they don’t want … a black person in their area.
“They get to ruin my life, say anything they want, and then they get to go on with their lives,” he added.
And isn’t that the crux of it. So far, there seems to be no mention of any punishment that the women may be facing for bearing false witness.
The Metro Times notes:
Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Maria Miller said the women were “deemed to have provided credible allegations” that supported the charges. But she added, “At trial the three complainants were not able to present testimony in the case that supported the three counts of stalking and the judge dismissed the case.”
Meanwhile, Peeples is left trying to sort his life out.
“People are giving these ladies funny nicknames but this is serious,” he said. “This is my life, what these people are doing is not cute — it’s ugly.”