Justice for Black Pastor Arrested for Watering Plants

Target: Talladega County Sheriff Jimmy Kilgore

Goal: Fire the officers involved in the allegedly wrongful arrest of Pastor Michael Jennings.

Michael Jennings, a pastor who lives in the city of Childersburg, Alabama, was watering the plants for his neighbor across the street when multiple police cars pulled up, and an officer approached, asking him what he was doing. He told the officer his name and that he was watering the flowers for his neighbors who were out of town. This apparently wasn’t good enough, because the officer asked him for his ID, insisting that he was a suspicious person. Knowing his rights from the time he spent training to be a police officer in nearby Sylacauga, Jennings refused.

There was a brief argument, Jennings tried to walk away from the situation, and they cuffed him. Police officers talked to the woman who allegedly made the call for the officers, who confirmed that Jennings was a neighbor and friend of the property owner, and that it was perfectly normal for Jennings to be there. Instead of letting him go, the officers reportedly had a brainstorming session on what to charge him with, complaining the whole time that the situation could have been avoided. After a fruitful discussion, they landed on obstruction of governmental operations and sent him to jail. He was released on $500 bond, and the charges were dropped a few days later.

Michael Jennings is demanding change, and believes all three officers involved should be fired or at least disciplined. He is now working on a lawsuit against the Childersburg Police Department. Sign this petition to stand with Pastor Michael Jennings in demanding that the Childersburg fire the officers involved in this unjust arrest.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Sheriff Jimmy Kilgore,

I understand that the Childesburg Police Department is going through a difficult transition right now. With the tragic accident that led to Chief Richard McClelland quitting the force, the city is no doubt having some trouble adjusting. It is in this context that the department needs some serious leadership, as the seemingly wrongful arrest of Pastor Michael Jennings has led to a national spotlight being placed on the county you represent.

There is no excuse for what happened. The body camera shows the pastor positively identifying himself and what he was doing, asserting his legal rights, and then being arrested on charges that were apparently invented by the officers post-hoc. When a neighbor identified that Michael Jennings was a friend of the property owner whose plants he was watering, the officers were stressed but didn’t do anything to rectify the decision, seemingly lying about Jennings’ behavior and posting a $500 bond after putting him in jail.

The body camera footage reportedly shows a lack of reason and honesty on the part of the officers that they themselves seem to take for granted, as if it’s completely routine. Pastor Michael Jennings is a well-connected, well-liked, and prominent member of the community. One has to wonder what sort of treatment is given to individuals who don’t have these advantages. There needs to be credible deterrence for this sort of behavior, or it will continue to plague Talladega County police departments.

The officers involved ought to be fired, if found in breach of duty.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Childersburg Police Department


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