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Black AL Pastor Sues Over Arrest While Watering Friends' Flowers

A Black Alabama pastor who was arrested by white police officers while watering the flowers of an out-of-town neighbor filed a federal lawsuit alleging the ordeal violated his constitutional rights and caused problems including emotional distress and anxiety. Michael Jennings filed the lawsuit against three officers and the central Alabama town of Childersburg seeking unspecified damages, reports the Associated Press. Jennings’ lawyers held a news conference to discuss the case. “I’m here for accountability, and I’m here for justice,” Jennings said.


The suit alleged the actions of officers Christopher Smith and Justin Gable, Sgt. Jeremy Brooks and the city violated rights protecting against unlawful arrest and guaranteeing free speech. Jennings, 56, was arrested in May after a white neighbor called 911 and said a “younger Black male” was at a house while the owners — who are friends of Jennings and had asked him to watch their home — were away. Jennings identified himself as “Pastor Jennings” but refused to provide identification to the officers, who arrested him on a charge of obstructing government operations after a 20-minute confrontation that included raised voices on both sides.

The charge was dismissed within days at the request of the then-police chief. Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama branch of the NAACP, said the officers who arrested Jennings did “so many things” that weren’t in line with good community policing tactics.

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