Police in Massachusetts are investigating an incident in which a Black woman was followed by a white man in her own neighborhood and made to feel unsafe.
Julia Santos, 21, recorded part of the encounter. She was picking up dog food that had been advertised on a community Facebook page from a Groveland house a mile from her own when she noticed a man following her in his vehicle.
"As she turned to head back home, she reported to police that a man in a vehicle turned around multiple times in an obvious effort to follow her," said a statement from Groveland Police.
Instead of driving home with the man following her, she turned down a random side street, and the man continued to trail her. She was then "confronted by the man who allegedly accused her of suspicious behavior," the police statement said. "Another resident emerged from their home and told the man to leave, which he did."
In the video Santos recorded, she tells the man: "I left and I saw you follow me all the way here, and I turned up here cause quite frankly, I don't feel safe right now."
"I don't feel safe with you driving around my neighborhood," the man responds.
"Why?" she asks.
"There's just too many people," he says.
"Too many people? Or is it cause I'm Black? Is that why?" she says. But he says it's not, and asks: "What color are you?"
"I just said I'm Black, and is that why you followed me?" she asks again.
"That's good, you're Black," he says. "Congratulations."
Santos told NBC Boston that she was afraid for her life. "That was probably a fear that I've never felt before, because I had no idea what could have happened and what he was capable of doing," she said.
Police said they have identified the man in the video and interviewed him. He has not been charged, but an investigation is ongoing, and charges may be filed, police said.
"Our job as police officers is to not only keep people safe but also feel safe in Groveland, and we will aggressively investigate this situation and do everything we can do to ensure it is not repeated," Groveland Chief Jeffrey T. Gillen said in the statement. "I have lived in this area for my entire life and have been a police officer here for more than 30 years. I have met many of the families in Groveland, including the victim’s family, and watched families grow here. I am deeply disturbed by this situation."
"The fact that a resident of our town could face accusation and be followed around like a criminal should make everyone stop in their tracks and consider how we treat one another,” he added.
"She was treated inappropriately, she was treated like she was up to no good and she was simply just doing her own thing, not bothering anybody," Gillen told NBC Boston. "People may think that racism doesn't exist in their little small town, but I just want people to open their eyes and realize that just cause it doesn't happen to them doesn't mean that it doesn't happen at all."