(CN) – A North Miami Beach city councilman claims in court that he was defamed and discriminated against by city officials due to his Haitian background while he was running for election.
In a complaint filed in Miami Federal Court, plaintiff Frantz Pierre says he was first elected to the Miami Beach city council in 2007 and that he is still the only black Haitian-American on it.
Pierre says his travails with other city officials began in Nov. 2014 after he demanded the city police chief resign over using photos of black male residents for target practice.
From that day forward, Pierre says, he was repeatedly retaliated against. In one instance, he says, the city sent a code enforcement officer to his home, and after nothing amiss was found there, the code enforcement officer filed a complaint, saying the city councilman had threatened her.
Pierre says he wasn’t even home at the time.
“Code Enforcement continued to harass plaintiff at all hours of the day and night by coming to his home to investigate various alleged frivolous unfounded allegations,” the Jan. 26 complaint says.
These allegations ranged, Pierre says, from his having a bent fence to a relative’s car being parked in the driveway with a flat tire.
Pierre says other city officials and employees set up unwarranted investigations of his activities, and published false news stories about him one day before the city elections.
He claims Deputy City Manager Mac Serda William Mac Serda and City Attorney Jose Smith leaked fake information about him to a blogger, and also called a news conference with media outlets where they alleged that Pierre was abusing his position as a councilman and that he had threatened a code enforcement officer.
Pierre claims that due to Serda’s and Smith’s false allegations he was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Eventually, he says, the city’s mayor, George Vallejo, endorsed the candidate who was running against Pierre for the city council.
“Plaintiff believes that he was targeted because he was the only Black Haitian-American, which is contrary to the law,” the complaint says.
Pierre seeks compensatory damages on claims of racial and national origin discrimination, retaliation, hostile work environment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
He is represented by Gregory Curtis from Miami Gardens, Fla.
City Attorney Jose Smith, said that the city is aware of the complaint, but that they have not been served.
”Since the allegations are false and the complaint legally deficient, I am confident the suit will be dismissed,” Smith said.