Being a good Samaritan apparently landed a Black pastor in the slammer.
On May 22nd, an Alabama pastor was arrested while watering his neighbor’s flowers – he plans to sue the city’s police department for discrimination.
According to WBRC, a 20-minute body camera video has been released of Pastor Michael Jennings of Vision of Abundant Life Ministries in Sylacauga, AL being approached and consequently arrested by police.
Jennings has a hose in hand when the 3 officers confront him.
“Y’all racially profiled me,” Jennings accuses in the video.
“We’re not racially profiling you,” an officer retorts.
“Yes, you did,” says Jennings.
“No sir, no sir,” another officer responded. “We’re not about that okay?”
“I told you I was here watering flowers,” Jennings responded.
“How do we know that’s the truth,” the officer asked.
“I had the water hose in my hand! I was watering the flowers,” Jennings laughs through his annoyance.
In the body cam footage, Jennings identified his home as the residence across the street from his neighbor’s.
He told ABC News, “I was trying to cooperate even though I didn’t understand what was going on. I was angry, but I knew to comply.”
The White woman who made the suspicious person’s report appeared at the scene and told the officers, “He lives right next door and he would be watering their flowers. This is probably my fault.” She said that she didn’t initially recognize Jennings but informed the officers that he was in fact her neighbor.
Phyllis Jennings, the pastor’s wife later arrived on the scene with his ID. “I was so horrified. I thought for sure he had been shot, God forbid dead. “Watering flowers constitutes this?”
According to WBRC, he was arrested and charged with obstructing government operations. Those charges were dropped the following month.
Pastor Jennings Plans To Sue
Pastor Jennings has three attorneys – one being Harry Daniels, a Georgia-based civil rights advocate.
Daniels said Pastor Jennings’ neighbor asked him to “yard sit” for him while he was away. Someone saw the man of the cloth in the yard and reported a suspicious person and vehicle was on the property.
“The neighbor, a white woman, they asked her, ‘Do he have a right to be there?’ She said, ‘Yes, I believe so,'” Daniels tells ABC. “And they took her word as gospel truth. But the pastor who preached the gospel every Sunday, they didn’t take his word at all.”
Attorney Daniels said throughout the vid, that you clearly witness police denying Jennings’ basic rights.
Although the charges have been dropped, Jennings has every intention on suing the Childersburgh Police Department. As you can imagine, being unjustifiably arrested while simply being a good neighbor can affect one’s mental health.
Daniels told WBRC that Jennings was doing okay but the emotional toll of the experience would take time to recover from.
“This thing came to my mind, that to be shackled and to have your freedom taken away from you, it’s something else. It’s dehumanizing. It’s something that gives you nightmares.”
After the pending litigation, my hope is that the pastor gets the paper he deserves.