A GoFundMe account has been created for Pastor Michael Jennings, the black minister who was wrongfully arrested in Childersburg, Al for watering his neighbor’s flowers. Over the weekend, Pastor Jennings’ son created the account asking fans and supporters for financial assistance to help out with fees and legal expenses tied to his father’s wrongful arrest and his federal lawsuit against the Childersburg, Alabama, Police Department. So far, Pastor Michael Jennings has received over $2,700, still shy of the family’s $5,000 goal.
“This entire situation has caused my father and the family emotional, psychological, mental, and financial hardship,” the pastor’s son, Michael Jennings Jr. wrote on the campaign page.
In late May, Pastor Jennings was arrested after a neighbor who did not recognize him called in a suspicious person’s report to the police. Pastor Jennings was watering his neighbor’s flowers, who were out of town when police approached him and asked for ID. Defending his innocence, the pastor refused to give the officers his personal information and was later booked into the Talladega County Jail where he was released after posting a $500 bail. Jennings’ charges were dismissed with prejudice on June 1, according to reports.
Legal expenses have impacted Pastor Michael Jennings’ finances
Jennings Jr. said that his father’s finances had been unstable ever since he closed his business 20 years ago and that he relied heavily on yard sales to make ends meet. “He has about 15-20 members in his church, so the family is not rich by any means,” he told supporters. According to Jennings Jr.’s post, bail money and other expensive fees needed to build the lawsuit against the police department have torn an even bigger hole into Pastor Jennings’ finances. On Sep. 9, Pastor Jennings filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the three Childersburg, Alabama, police officers violated his first and fourth amendment rights.
“It has affected his everyday life. His time and presence have been requested and required to fulfill the needs in building this case which has taken him from his source of income,” Jennings Jr. wrote, adding, “This request from us is not one to make us rich by any means but for him to be able to continue to support his family and ministry.”
Pastor Jennings is seeking “relief from the courts as well as a jury trial,” according to CNN. Attorneys for the minister argued that by law, Pastor Jennings had the right to be on private property and therefore was not required to show identification to authorities. “What they did that day, they did with impunity, figured there would be no action taken against them,” the minister told reporters during a press conference on Saturday. “I felt dehumanized, I felt little. I felt helpless, and it hurt me.”
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