A Michigan judge tossed three stalking charges against black man filed by a white woman who objected to him “gardening while black,” and she said the accuser should face the same charges.
Deborah Nash lives across the street from a vacant playground in Detroit where Marc Peeples established a community playground last year, and she and two other white women who live nearby called police on the black man dozens of times, reported the Detroit Metro Times.
Peeples says Nash, Jennifer Morris and Martha Callahan objected to his project and began fabricating more serious allegations against him when police refused to cite him for the garden.
“Ain’t no law against raking leaves,” one officer said, according to body camera video.
Court documents show Nash claimed Peeples threatened to take her home, which he allegedly said she had stolen from Native Americans, and the woman also accused him of painting gang colors on vacant houses and trees.
She then told police that Peeples threatened to burn down her house and repeatedly threatened to kill her, and Nash claimed the black man took part in a drive-by shooting of her home.
Nash told police in March that Peeples had a gun in the park, which wasn’t true, and all three women waited until the man had a group of children helping him in the garden and told police they heard from a school principal that he was a pedophile.
“It was blatant racism,” Peeples said. “They didn’t like the fact that a black man was in so-called ‘their’ neighborhood without their permission.”
Detroit police and Wayne County prosecutors eventually filed three counts of stalking against Peeples, even though body camera video shows at least one officer believed the charges were “B.S.” — and a judge eventually agreed.
District Court Judge E. Lynise Bryant dismissed the “ridiculous” charges Tuesday in a directed verdict, which ended the case before it went before a jury.
“[The three white women] should be sitting at the defendant’s table for stalking and harassment charges, not Mr. Peeples,” Bryant said. “This is disgusting and a waste of the court’s time and resources.”
The judge found the women filed false police reports, contradicted their own claims on the stand and lied under oath.
“[They] engaged in a very targeted and constant harassment of the young man,” Bryant said, adding that the campaign appeared to be racially motivated. “I found their testimony to be offensive.”
Peeples said he lost business contracts and spent more than $3,500 on bail and attorney fees, which he’s trying to recover through a GoFundMe page, and he said the case damaged his reputation.
“They get to ruin my life, say anything they want,” he said, “and then they get to go on their lives.”
“People are giving these ladies funny nicknames but this is serious,” he added. “This is my life, what these people are doing is not cute — it’s ugly.”