Police investigating after black woman allegedly followed through Groveland

GROVELAND, MASS. (WHDH) - Police are investigating after a man followed a black woman for two miles as she drove through Groveland, saying his behavior was “unacceptable.”

The woman said she drove to Juniper Terrace to pick up dog food she arranged to collect via Facebook and then noticed a man following her in his car.

She said he trailed her for two miles until she turned down a side street to get away, and recorded the conversation when the man followed and demanded to know what she was doing there.

“So what are you driving up Juniper Terrace for?” the man says in the video. When the woman tells him he’s making her feel unsafe, he replies “You don’t feel safe? I don’t feel safe with you driving around my neighborhood.”

When the woman asks if the man is following her because she’s black, the man says “I don’t know what color you are … what color are you?”

“I’m black and that’s why you’re following me?” the woman says, with the man responding “That’s good, you’re black, congratulations.”

The woman said the man eventually drove off after she asked him to leave. Adriana Santos, the woman’s sister, said the video shows she was followed because she’s black.

“This is a good example to show this stuff is really happening,” Santos said. “It was definitely shocking to watch, especially knowing my sister so well. I could definitely hear in her voice how shook up she was.”

Groveland Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen said he spoke with the man, who claims the confrontation was a misunderstanding, but Gillen is looking at potential charges.

“This is just totally unacceptable and if that’s what was the driving force, that’s even more concerning,” Gillen said. “I’m looking at any and all charges we can file against this male subject and hold him accountable for the way he made that woman feel and how he treated her.”

In a statement, Town Finance Director Denise Dembkoski expressed sincere support for the resident who bravely spoke out after she was followed.

“This situation has given us all a collective pause,” Dembkoski said. “Groveland seeks to be a safe and welcoming community for all. Anyone should be able to drive or walk on any street without being made to feel like a criminal. I join in the outrage and collective anger felt by our residents but am moved by the support offered to the victim in this case.”

Dembkoski added, “It is my sincere hope that our community will see this moment for what it is and come together to participate in a dialog about how we treat one another. It is unacceptable that a young Black woman should have the presumption of wrongdoing for driving in her own hometown–or anyone else’s hometown, neighborhood or street for that matter. No one should be made to feel unsafe or unwelcome when they have done nothing wrong, and I am pleased that the Groveland Police Department and Chief Jeffrey Gillen have acted swiftly and aggressively.”

Michael Wood, chair of the Groveland Board of Selectmen, said that “the true story of what Groveland represents will not be the actions of one person but of the many, who came together to support the victim.”

(Copyright (c) 2020 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)