A Black pastor was arrested by Alabama police, as he was watering his neighbors’ garden while they were out of town.
“Ya’ll racially profiled me,” said Michael Jennings in a video that captured the arrest. According to an attorney for the Vision of Abundant Life Ministries pastor, it all started with Jennings being a good neighbor. Georgia-based civil rights attorney Harry Daniels explained that a long-time neighbor of the pastor asked him to water his yard while he was out of town. As he was fulfilling the obligation, Jennings was approached by police following a report of a suspicious vehicle and person on the property.
During the video, Jennings can be heard explaining that the SUV did not belong to him and that his home was across the street. After refusing to present identification to authorities, officials placed him into handcuffs. He was also arrested and charged with obstructing government operations. Jennings refused to present his ID given his own background in law enforcement, noting that because he had not committed a crime, there was no need to provide them with the information. “He is going to be so pissed when I tell him I got arrested for watering his flowers,” said the pastor at one point during the video.
According to Daniels, the video showcases a violation of Jennings’ rights. “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,” he said.
Although the charges were dropped against Jennings within a month of the incident, Daniels revealed their plans to sue the department. “These cases put law enforcement on notice and the country on notice that these types of interactions — thank God that Pastor Jennings had a cool head,” Daniels shared. “He didn’t get aggressive or defensive in a sense, and he complied when the officers grabbed him. But it could’ve went a different way. Pastor Jennings could very well not be here today.”