Earlier this month, Detroit pastor Lorenzo Sewell was detained by police after being denied entry to the building of the church where he has served as pastor for nearly five years. He says that he was the victim of a “church jacking.”
The incident took place on June 7, when Sewell was alerted that someone had drilled into the locks at 180 Church, where he is senior pastor. After rushing to the church, Sewell was stopped by police, handcuffed, and placed in the back of a police vehicle.
“He’s trying to stop me from going into the building. He’s asking me who I am. I tell him my name is on the building,” Sewell recounted to FOX2 while playing back security footage. “He’s walking me off in handcuffs.”
When asked to describe how he felt in that moment, Sewell said, “Violation.”
“Not for me, but for people who look like me that don’t have Todd Perkins as their attorney,” Sewell continued, referring to a Detroit area attorney. “People that don’t have relationships.”
Sewell said that a group that was previously associated with the church somehow gained control of the church’s facility, bank account, and business entities.
When asked why he believes he and his church were targeted, Sewell, a Black man, said, “It’s just the power of privilege. I believe that when you are white and you have power, you feel like, ‘I own this.’ Instead of saying, ‘Wow, this guy’s been the pastor for five years.’”
Sewell has since been able to regain control of the church, but he expressed disappointment with how he was treated by police in the community in which he and they both serve.
“[It’s] painful,” Sewell said, “because we are an advocate for the cops. We do Faith & Blue, we do jazz concerts, we just played basketball with them a day before in the community.”
Sewell went on to say, “The first thing is that we need to deal with the culture of policing in the Blackest city in America—that’s number one. Number two, we need to be willing to say, ‘Listen, we need to build bridges of trust with our community instead of suspecting the worst out of our community.’”