I know that police arrest Black people for anything these days but this is just outrageous. A Childersburg, Ala. pastor was arrested while watering his neighbor’s flowers, according to WBRC. Per the video footage, several witnesses confirmed he was supposed to be there but the officers refused to remove his handcuffs.
Pastor Michael Jennings of Vision of Abundant Life Ministries, returned home from service one Sunday in May and went to water his neighbor’s plants. That’s when someone called the police on him, claiming an unfamiliar SUV was parked outside the neighbor’s house and that an unknown man was lurking on the property. Per the body camera footage, the officers approached Jennings asking him what he was doing at the house.
“Watering flowers,” Jennings responded. “I’m supposed to be here. I’m Pastor Jennings. I live across the street. I’m looking out for their house while they’re gone.”
Read how the situation escalated from The Independent:
The police officer asks Mr Jennings to present identification, which Mr Jennings declined to do – telling the officer that he “did nothing wrong.”
After less than two minutes of the recorded interaction, police officers took Mr Jennings’ phone and handcuffed him. Shortly thereafter, police officers began screaming at Mr Jennings that he must identify himself to them while Mr Jennings accused the officers of improper conduct.
At that point, a white woman approached the scene to vouch for Mr Jennings, telling the officers that he lived nearby and that he may well have had permission to be watering the flowers.
But even after the neighbor’s intervention, police continued to tell Mr Jennings that he was a suspicious person and that he should have presented his identification when asked – even though he was not committing a crime.
According to the report, Jennings’ family also arrived to confirm his identity but the officers took him to jail and charged him with obstruction of government operation, which was dropped a month later. Now, the pastor is preparing a discrimination lawsuit against the police department.
Let’s just call a spade a spade. Jennings was racially profiled. For most states, you are not required to provide identification unless an officer has probable cause to believe you’re up to something criminal. The pastor was literally watering flowers.
This situation is also about who called the police on him in the first place. If you see something, yes, say something. However, a Black man watering plants is far from a threat to society.
“It represents an abuse of police powers. It represents racial profiling and it represents law-enforcement officers intimidating a person who actually understands and knows their rights,” said Harry Daniels, Jennings’ attorney.