BOSTON (CBS) – The ACLU has taken on the case of a Roslindale man who says he was stopped and cornered by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while out for a jog in West Roxbury on the VFW Parkway. “They hopped out, at least one was armed, they had on tactical vests and driving huge unmarked cars. Nobody was helping me I was by myself and anything could have happened to me,” said 29-year-old Bena Apreala.
He pulled out his cell phone and began recording the encounter. One of the three men he said had an ICE patch on his shirt. The men didn’t identify themselves but said he matched the description of someone they were looking for.
“They asked me what are you doing around here, where are you from, what are your whereabouts, why are you jogging down here,” he said.
On the cell phone video, the agents can be heard asking Apreala if they could examine his tattoos which he refused. “Am I free to go? I don’t have to show you anything if I’m free to go,” he said.
Apreala said he felt targeted by the men. ICE would not comment on the encounter, but sources tell WBZ-TV they were federal agents. “I was extremely nervous in light of everything going on in the nation,” said Apreala.
The incident has outraged local politicians including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh who reached out personally to Apreala and is now demanding answers from federal authorities. “Incidents like this have no place in our city or in the country. It causes real pain, fear and concern,” Walsh said.
In a statement, Rahsaan Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU said: “This incident raises serious constitutional questions and is disturbing on a human level.”
Apreala said it has left him shaken. “I was absolutely being racially profiled no question about it. People were jogging up and down the Parkway and I was the only one stopped and accosted,” he said.