Officials demand investigation after ICE agents stop Black jogger in Boston
Elected officials in Massachusetts are calling for an investigation after a black man was stopped by immigration and customs agents during a run in Boston on Tuesday.
Bena Apreala, 29, told WBUR he was walking a few miles from his house when two SUVs with tinted windows approached him. One of the cars was blocking the sidewalk in front of him and the other stopped next to him, Apreala told the station.
"These guys just hopped off in full camouflage uniforms with masks over their faces and stopped me and told me to identify myself immediately," he said. "I was confused as to whether or not they were any legitimate authority at all."
At least three men Apreala said were white did not identify themselves as law enforcement agencies, but Apreala noticed an ICE badge, according to WBUR. He told them he was a US citizen born in Boston, and one officer replied that he matched the description of a person they examined.
"They said immigration is not the only thing they are investigating and interviewed me," Apreala told WBUR.
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A law enforcement spokesman told the US TODAY Friday that its officers were involved and identified as "Police / ICE".
The officials were "looking for a previously deported Haitian national with multiple criminal convictions and pending cocaine and fentanyl trafficking charges who may have been in the area," the spokesman said.
Apreala didn't have ID with him, but he gave the men his full name and address, WBUR reported. At that point, he started recording the interaction and recording videos that were later shared by his wife on Facebook.
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In the short clip, Apreala confirms with the three men that he was free to walk and when he starts to walk, they ask about his arm.
“Do you have tattoos on your left or right arm? So we can confirm that and we're out of here, ”said the man.
"Am I free to go?" Apreala answered. "Do I have to show you? When I'm free I won't show you anything. Thank you very much. I wish you a nice day. "
As he walks away, he seems to be telling the audience, "record this just in case".
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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he spoke to Apreala and thanked him for sharing his experience on Wednesday. He called the video "extremely disturbing to watch".
"It violates a person's rights based on their skin color alone and is unacceptable," he said on Twitter.
US Representative Ayanna Pressley called for an "immediate investigation" into the incident on Twitter. Pressley, Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, as well as US Representative Stephen Lynch, sent a letter to the ICE leadership questioning the legality of the ICE measures and asking for more information.
The Massachusetts ACLU represents Apreala and said it will investigate the incident.
"This incident raises serious constitutional questions and is troubling on a human level," Rahsaan Hall, director of the Racial Justice Program at the Massachusetts ACLU, said in a statement.
The incident is one of several incidents this year classified as "Jogging while Black" that was recorded and shared on social media.
On February 23, Ahmaud Arbery was followed and killed by three white men while jogging through a neighborhood in South Georgia. Mathias Ometu was falsely identified and arrested as a domestic violence suspect while out and about in San Antonio, Texas last month. Days later, Joseph Griffin was stopped and handcuffed by police in Deltona, Florida. He said it fit the description of a wanted burglar.
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Follow N'dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Black jogger stopped by ICE in Boston: Officials want an investigation
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