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Gang Moll’s Harassment Appeal Fails in 7th Circuit

A Centralia woman’s claim that cops acted maliciously when they pressed her on threatening social media posts didn’t sit well with justices in the Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which upheld a summary judgement for the city and the officer who brought felony intimidation charges. Shirlena Barnes shouted epithets and wrote Facebook posts about Officer Michael Peebles when he arrested a pair of gang bangers wanted on weapons charges in 2016. Peebles complained as a private citizen that the posts could be construed as threats against his family, resulting in the woman’s arrest.

Despite proven connections to Centralia’s Rude Boyz street gang, the Marion County State’s Attorney declined to pursue the case and Barnes never stood trial. However, she sought damages in district court on Fourth Amendment grounds, citing her arrest as part of a pattern of harassment by the Centralia Police Department and the dismissal as proof of her innocence. The appellate panel disagreed, citing both testimony and case law in supporting the district court’s ruling that Peebles’ complaint was made in response to a material threat. They rejected the harassment claim because Barnes had revised her argument on appeal and failed to present evidence as to why the case was terminated.