Black Jogger Who Was Stopped by ICE in Boston Speaks Out; Mayor and Lawmakers Call for Accountability
A black man was jogging in Boston when he said he was racially profiled and stopped by agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Service. After watching video footage of the incident that the man taped, the mayor and lawmakers are calling for accountability on the city.
Bena Apreala, 29, told NBC Boston that the ICE agents did not identify themselves before stopping and asked him who he was and what he was doing.
"The policeman walked up to me and said, 'Hey, stop', and without identification, he asked me for ID, asked me where I was from, asked me who I was, what my business was," said Apreala. "They never introduced themselves, they never identified, they never said I was imprisoned for violating immigration laws."
From NBC Boston:
The 29-year-old real estate agent and father says the scary experience made him nervous about what might come next.
"I said," What am I being detained for? "Recalled Apreala." He said, "Because you fit the description of someone we are investigating."
"When I looked at that thing, I wasn't sure until I had to call him if he had been arrested," said his mother Patricia Apreala, who stated that she feared for her son after watching the video. "I have too many videos in my head about young black men with law enforcement, and it wasn't a pretty sight, I can tell you."
A spokesman for ICE's enforcement and removal department told NBC News that Apreala has been stopped because it appears to look like someone the agency is looking for.
"ICE officials conducted a targeted enforcement operation in West Roxbury, Massachusetts on Wednesday looking for a previously deported Haitian national with multiple criminal convictions and pending cocaine and fentanyl trafficking charges who may have been a resident of the area. " Spokesman said. The agency also denied that the officers had not come forward.
After interviewing Apreala, the agents discovered he wasn't the person they were looking for and he was allowed to leave, NBC reports. In the video, an officer can be heard asking Apreala, "Do you have any tattoos on your left or right arm?"
“Am I free to go? Do I have to show you. When I'm free, I won't show you anything, ”Apreala replies. "Thank you. I wish you a nice day."
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh got none of this. During a press conference on Wednesday, Walsh "urged ICE to deal with the situation and said it had asked the city police department for more information about the incident," NBC reports.
Walsh also tweeted that he had spoken to Apreala and that "Race profiles and stops like this will be false, unjustified and not tolerated".
West Roxbury City Councilor Matt O'Malley expressed similar sentiments, calling the stop "unlawful" and saying that racial profiling "should not take place here or anywhere".
And of course Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass) got through with one word.
"For too long ICE and CBP have acted with impunity - encouraged by a xenophobic government and the resident of this White House," Pressley tweeted on Wednesday. "We're not going to watch them intimidate, harass, or racially profile our black and brown communities in Boston or anywhere in the country."
She also tweeted that she "calls for an immediate investigation into the incident," adding that "we need to understand what they were doing and the reasons behind their employment".
It is unclear whether or not an investigation into the stop will actually be conducted.
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