The 56-year-old man of faith plans to file a complaint and denounces “racial profiling” by the police.
The sequence is highly controversial across the Atlantic. On May 22 in Childersburg, Alabama, Michael Jennings, an African-American pastor of the local church Vision of Abundant Life, was arrested by local police. His only fault? Watering the flowers of his neighbors who had commissioned him for this thorny mission during their holidays in the mountains in the north of the country.
Images of the arrest, filmed by the cameras carried by the police, have in recent hours been broadcast by the American media NPR. We can see two police officers intervening near a house in this residential area. “What are you doing here, man?” one of them asks the man of faith, busy with his task. “I water the flowers,” replies the 56-year-old, who identifies himself as “Pastor Jennings” who lives across the street.
The situation escalates slightly when the officers ask the pastor to present his identity papers. The latter refuses, retorting that he has done nothing wrong and accusing the police of “racial profiling.”
“You have no right to approach me, I have done nothing wrong. If you want to lock me up, lock me up, I will continue to water these flowers”, he continues.
According to New York Times, under state law, police officers are authorized to arrest a person in a public place and demand identification if they suspect a crime or other public offense has been committed. Of which act, the pastor is handcuffed and taken to the station, accused of “obstructing government operations”. A charge that will finally be dropped a few days later by the Childersburg police, the watering of flowers not being prohibited by the laws of Alabama.
According to American media, the police actually intervened following a call from a neighbor, worried about the movements around the house. It is a woman, named Amanda, who we finally see intervening with the police at the end of this same video. “It’s completely normal, they are friends,” she finally told the police, after initially claiming to have called the police because she believed she had seen “a teenager” prowling.
However, Pastor Jennings does not intend to stop there and plans, supported by his lawyer, Me Harry Daniels, to file a complaint for illegal arrest.
“This is a case of police abuse, police intimidation and racial profiling,” he told the New York Times.
Questioned by the same media, Kevin Koss, head of the Childersburg police department, did not wish to comment. Still marked by his arrest, Pastor Jennings assures him, he is “not anti-police.” “We need our police. We just need good police,” he insists.