Apparently, watering flowers while Black has been added to the ever-growing list of things a melanated person just can’t do without looking suspicious to someone.
In Childersburg, Alabama, a Black pastor was arrested in May while watering his neighbor’s flowers at the request of the neighbor, who was out of town. Now, that pastor is planning to file a lawsuit over the incident. But before we get into all of that, we have got to talk about part of the conversation between one of three officers who arrived at the scene and the alleged racial profiling victim, Pastor Michael Jennings of Vision of Abundant Life Ministries in Sylacauga.
From WBRC 6:
“Y’all racially profiled me,” Jennings said in the video.
“We’re not racially profiling you,” the unidentified officer responded.
“Yes, you did,” replied Jennings.
“No sir, no sir,” the arresting officer rebutted. “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.
I MEAN SERIOUSLY!!!
Watch the bodycam video below.
In the video, Jennings is seen CLEARLY watering flowers when the cops confronted him. There’s no mistaking it for any other activity. There’s no reason for the cops to think he was doing anything else. You can’t tell me cops aren’t out here playing around in our faces when an officer is swearing to this man that he hasn’t been racially profiled, and then asking him why he should believe he’s just watering flowers when it’s CLEAR AS DAY THAT ALL HE’S DOING IS WATERING FLOWERS!!!
According to Jennings’ attorney, Harry Daniels, police said someone called to report a suspicious vehicle, a gold SUV. In the video, Jennings is heard telling the police it isn’t his car. It turned out the SUV was registered to the owner of the home where Jennings was, again, just watering flowers.
One can only wonder why anyone would call 911 over a vehicle simply existing—especially one that is on or near the property of the person who owns it. How is that suspicious? Why are cops having to come to a scene where literally nothing is going on? But more importantly, why is a Black man being approached just for being in proximity to this car?
So, the arresting officer asked Jennings for his ID and Jennings refused. He told the cops he had a law enforcement background and knew he didn’t have to show ID to cops on command if he wasn’t committing a crime. Then he tried to walk away but the cops followed behind him. The officers handcuffed him, took his phone and sat him down on the porch. Jennings was arrested and charged with obstructing government operations. The charges were dropped the following month.
“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,” Daniels told WBRC.
“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,” he continued. “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.”
Black folks get tired of not being able to exist without looking suspicious to someone. We’re tired of not being able to perform even the most mundane activities without neighbors and cops finding cause to suspect we might be doing something wrong—even when we’re in our own damn neighborhoods just existing.
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