BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The ACLU is representing a West Roxbury man who was jogging when he was allegedly stopped and questioned by immigration officers in an unmarked vehicle.
Lifelong Massachusetts resident Bena Apreala, who is Black, recorded part of the encounter Tuesday. The video shows the three men in tactical vests, who had pulled over in unmarked SUVs along VFW Parkway. They reportedly told Apreala he fit the description of a suspect.
After the men confirmed Apreala could leave, one of them can be heard asking if Apreala has any tattoos on his left or right arm, "just so we can confirm."
"Am I free to go? Do I have to show you? If I'm free to go then I'm not showing you anything," Apreala can be heard responding. "Thank you, have a great day, guys."
Mayor Marty Walsh called the video "extremely disturbing" to watch.
"It was unacceptable in so many ways," Walsh said. "Violating someone’s rights just because of the color of their skin, is always unacceptable."
Rashaan Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, said the incident "raises serious constitutional questions and is disturbing on a human level."
The ACLU said it is investigating the incident.
UPDATE 5:48 p.m.: ICE has released the following statement:
"ICE officers were conducting surveillance as part of a targeted enforcement action Tuesday 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," the statement said.
"An individual matching the subject’s description appeared in the area associated with their subject," it continued. "The ICE officers approached him, identifying themselves as Police/ICE, and asked to speak with the individual. During the encounter, ICE officers determined the individual was not the subject of their investigation and that he did not have any additional information regarding their subject or his whereabouts and was free to leave the scene."
WBZ NewsRadio's Shari Small reports:
(Photo: Michelle Lynne/Facebook)