Black pastor arrested for watering plants: Man taken into custody while watching neighbor's home

Pastor Jennings told Childersburg, Alabama police he lived nearby

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Thursday, August 25, 2022
'It's dehumanizing': Pastor arrested while watching neighbor's home
A Black pastor was arrested while watching his neighbor's home in Childersburg, AL.

CHILDERSBURG, Ala. -- A Black pastor was arrested by Alabama police, as he was watering his neighbors' garden while they were out of town.

"I ain't do nothing suspicious, nothing wrong, told them, 'I'm a pastor. I don't want to hear it. You want to lock me up? Lock me up!'" Pastor Michael Jennings told "Good Morning America."

Newly released police body camera video shows the arrest of an Alabama pastor who was watering his neighbor's plants.

This past spring, Jennings was doing a favor for a neighbor, who had asked him to water their plants while they were out of town.

But police arrived and started questioning him.

The pastor was eventually forced in the back of a squad car.

A woman soon arrived on the scene and identified herself as a neighbor, vouching for the pastor.

"He lives right there, and he would be watering their flowers. This is probably my fault," she could be heard saying.

She said she was the one who placed the call.

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"So you called not because of the car but because you thought you saw someone besides him?" the police asked.

"Right, I didn't know it was him," she said.

Jennings spoke to "GMA" about the ordeal.

"It was kind of surreal at that moment because I was wondering, 'why is this happening?' I was thinking if I did something wrong, if I resist it, that I could have been shot, so I was trying to cooperate even though I didn't understand what was going on. I was agitated. I was angry, but I knew to comply," he said.

The 56-year-old maintains this was a case of racial profiling.

Throughout the video, police can be heard a few times suggesting that the situation would have had a different outcome if Jennings provided identification.

In Alabama, police are allowed to ask someone to identify himself in a public place if they reasonably suspect that person of committing a crime.

"To be shackled, and to have your freedom taken away from you, it's something else. It's dehumanizing. And I thought, you know, why would they be doing this? It's something that it gives you nightmares, it gives you nightmares afterwards," Jennings said.

Jennings maintains there was no crime given he was on private property with permission.

"The neighbor, a white woman, they took her word as a gospel truth, but the pastor who preached the gospel every Sunday, they didn't take his word at all," lawyer Harry Daniels said.

The pastor was charged with one count of obstruction of government operation, but that charge was later dropped. For now, Jennings said he's leaning on his faith.

"My faith helped me a lot because I knew that God would work the situation out. You have to forgive people because can't judge people and hold things against people," he said.