Video Shows Black Pastor in Alabama Arrested While Watering Neighbor's Flowers

The pastor said, “The Bible teaches us to love thy neighbor. Whether it’s the one you want to water their flowers for, or the one who calls the police on you."

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Shortly after Sunday service, Reverend Michael Jennings went to his neighbor’s home to water their outdoor flowers at their request. Minutes later, the Black pastor found himself handcuffed in the back of a police car.

According to the New York Times, the arrest took place May 22 in Childersburg, Alabama, where Jennings had been spotted outside a home with a garden hose in hand. Local police reportedly received a call from a community member who expressed concern about “suspicious activity” outside the neighbor’s residence. 

Bodycam footage released last week shows officers approaching Jennings as he took care of the favor for his neighbor while they were out of town. Authorities are heard asking the reverend—who leads Vision of Abundant Life Church in Sylacauga, Alabama—if he lived at the home. He identifies himself and informs officers what he’s doing, adding that he lives up the street.

Police then ask Jennings to provide them with identification. He refuses to do so, insisting he’s done nothing wrong. “You have no right to approach me if I ain’t did nothing suspicious. … I told him I was a pastor,” he’s filmed saying. “If you want to lock me up, lock me up.”

Moments after he began walking away from the officers, Jennings was placed in handcuffs. A white woman in the area is seen telling police she knows Jennings and points to his house. She says it was likely that Jennings had permission to be on the property, as he is friends with the homeowner, who left town that day.

The woman later confirmed it was she who alerted police, but admits it was a mistake.

“I didn’t know it was him,” she said, referring to Jennings.

Officers in the footage tell the pastor there wouldn’t have been a problem if he just complied with their requests to provide an ID.

“The way y’all handled the situation was totally wrong,” Jennings says. “You racially profiled...I told you I was here watering the flowers.”

An officer then asks Jennings to give him his social security number; the pastor declines to do so, but offers his first and last name.

According to the Times, Jennings was ultimately arrested for obstructing governmental operations. He told the outlet that during the ride to the police station, an officer asked him to pray for his family. Jennings obliged.

“This is a case of police abuse, police intimidation, and racial profiling,” the reverend’s lawyer Harry Daniels said. “Pastor Jennings was arrested illegally, and he was taken away from his family unlawfully.”

Daniels says his client intends to file a lawsuit for wrongful arrest sometime next week, but declined to say who would be listed as a defendant. The Childersburg Police Department did not respond to the NYT’s request for comment.

“The Bible teaches us to love thy neighbor,” Jennings said. “Whether it’s the one you want to water their flowers for, or the one who calls the police on you.”

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