Boston officials seek answers after Black jogger stopped by ICE

ICE thought he was a suspect they were looking for

A Black man was jogging on Tuesday when he was stopped by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Bena Apreala was jogging along VFW Parkway in West Roxbury, Boston when ICE stopped him. Apreala quickly pulled out his phone to record the ordeal, according to NBC Boston.

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He said the officer did not identify himself and asked if he had a tattoo on his right or left arm.

“The police officer started walking towards me, and he said, ‘Hey, stop,'” said Apreala. “He started asking me for identification.”

Bena Apreala Image: CBS Boston

Apreala asked the officers, “Am I free to go? Do I have to show you? If I’m free to go, then I’m not showing you anything, thank you. Have a great day, guys.”

Apreala, 29, is a father and real estate agent. “They never introduced themselves, they never identified themselves, they never said I was being detained because of an immigration violation,” he complained.

When the young man asked why he was being stoped the agents said it was because he fit the description of a suspect they were looking for.

The video of the incident was posted online. His mother, Patricia Apreala said once she saw the video she was afraid her son had been arrested.

“As I was watching this thing, I wasn’t sure until I got to call him if he had been arrested. I have too many videos running in my head about young Black males with law enforcement, and it was not a pretty sight, I can tell you.”

Boston officials said the agents’ behavior will not be tolerated. “This was an extremely disturbing video to watch. It was unacceptable in so many ways: violating someone’s rights just because of the color of their skin, is always unacceptable. Also unacceptable is the fact that ICE hasn’t confirmed or denied that these were their agents, “said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Twitter on Wednesday.

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ICE eventually said it was in fact their agents who stopped Apreala. A spokesperson told NBC News, “ICE officers were conducting surveillance as part of a targeted enforcement action Wednesday in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, looking for a previously deported Haitian national with multiple criminal convictions and pending cocaine and fentanyl trafficking charges that may have been residing in the area.” 

On Wednesday, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass took to Twitter to comment and call for a full investigation.

“For too long, ICE and CBP have acted with impunity—emboldened by a xenophobic Administration and the Occupant of this White House. We will not stand by and watch them intimidate, harass and racially profile our Black and Brown communities in Boston or anywhere in the country.”

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