‘Unacceptable': Boston Mayor Wants Answers After Black Jogger Was Stopped by ICE Agents

Bena Apreala recorded an encounter in which he was stopped by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while jogging on the VFW Parkway in West Roxbury on Tuesday

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Mayor Marty Walsh said he wants answers after a jogger recorded video of an encounter with federal agents in Boston earlier this week.

"It's unacceptable," Walsh said during his Wednesday's news conference, adding that he has asked the Boston Police Department to reach out to federal authorities to find out more about the incident.

Bena Apreala, who is Black, told NBC10 Boston that he started recording after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents stopped him while he was jogging on the VFW Parkway in West Roxbury on Tuesday afternoon.

"The police officer started walking toward me, and he said, 'Hey, stop,' and without identifying himself, he started asking me for identification, asking me where I was from, asking me who I was, what my business was around the area," Apreala said.

A jogger shared his experience after being stopped by ICE agents on VFW Parkway in Boston.

"Do you have any tattoos on your left or right arm? So we can confirm and we'll be out of here," one of the agents can be heard asking in the recording.

"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 responds. "Thank you. Have a great day, guys."

Apreala, a 29-year-old real estate agent and father, said the ICE agents never identified themselves and he didn't realize who they were until he looked at their badges.

"It was disturbing video to watch," Walsh said Wednesday. "It's unacceptable in so many ways. It violates somebody's rights just based on the color of their skin."

The New York Times reports how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement inadvertently helped spread Covid-19 across the globe by holding immigrants in detention centers that became hotbeds for the virus before deportation.

The mayor said he spoke with Apreala on Wednesday morning and plans to speak with him again later in the day.

"Incidents like this have no place in our city, have no place in our country, honestly," Walsh added. "We're going to continue to be asking questions... It's still unclear why this happened. We're going to get more information on that."

At least two Boston city councilors are also reportedly looking into the matter, according to WBUR.

Apreala told NBC10 Boston the whole experience left him nervous for what could come next.

"I said, 'What am I being detained for?'" Apreala recalled. "He said, 'Because you fit the description of someone we're investigating.'"

"As I was watching this thing, I wasn't sure until I got to call him if he had been arrested," said his mother, Patricia Apreala, who explained that she feared for her son after seeing the video. "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."

Apreala was not taken into custody.

Attempts to reach ICE were not immediately successful, but the agency confirmed Wednesday evening that its officers stopped a jogger in West Roxbury the previous day.

"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," the agency said in a statement. "An individual matching the subject's description appeared in the area associated with their subject. 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."

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