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Detroit 'gardening while black' lawsuit settled

Marc Peeples says he was the victim of numerous unjustified accusations by three white women in his own Detroit neighborhood. Peeples was arrested and landed in jail, until criminal charges were dismissed by a Detroit judge.

A Detroit man who sued three women he accused of calling police on him for "gardening while black" on the city's east side has settled with one of them, according to attorneys in the case.

Marc Peeples sued the women last month in Wayne County Circuit Court, saying he faced unjust police calls, stops and racial profiling because of the three east-side residents, who are white.

Peeples' attorney, Robert Burton-Harris, referred questions to his client but confirmed that a non-financial settlement was reached Monday between Peeples and Deborah Nash. Peeples had accused Nash as being one of the women who called the police on him as he tended a garden in the area of East Eight Mile and John R.

Peeples told The Detroit News he dropped the lawsuit because it had become too much for his family.

"It was becoming a strain on my family with all the attention," he said."I didn't want all the attention. I just wanted to do something for my family."

The lawsuit was set for trial next month. Peeples received a default judgment against the other two women named in the complaint, Martha Callahan and Jennifer Moore, when they failed to show up for court in the matter.

Peeples said he received $64,000 from a GoFundMe fundraiser in November after people read about his case.  He said he put the money to good use and bought a "fixer upper" house for him and his family. The rest, said Peeples, is being put back in the urban garden he still tends in the old neighborhood where the incidents occurred.

"I felt like the GoFundMe (money) could be used to make improvement in my own community," said Peeples. "The victory (of the lawsuit) came with me still being in the park. I'm still able to go over there and farm."

Nash's attorney, Kyle Bristow, said the settlement is "a complete and total victory for my client."

"Marc Peeples’ lawsuit against Deborah Nash was stupid, devoid of common sense, and disregarded the elementary rule that witnesses cannot be sued for talking to the police or testifying in court,” he said.

“Marc Peeples may have enjoyed litigating this case in the court of public opinion where rules of civil procedure and evidence and common sense do not apply, but he did not stand a chance in a real court of law," Bristow said. "Deborah Nash has never engaged in misconduct.”

In an October interview, Nash told the New York Times she called police after Peeples threatened her. 

“I am not a racist. I was all for the garden and even helped with supplies at first, but he threatened me several times, in person to my face, that I needed to leave my neighborhood or I would be put out one way or another,” Nash said.

Peeples told The Detroit News in October that he had been harassed by the women and they had called police on him numerous times while he was in his old neighborhood on Fayette and Winchester starting in the summer of 2017.

"I guess it was gardening while black," he said.

Peeples said he "didn't have any recourse" but to take Nash and the others to court saying he wanted the women to have to come to court and "face scrutiny."

"I'm definitely not changing my views," he said.

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