SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — A man wearing a jacket that resembled one worn by federal
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents caused a stir at a San Rafael church during a Spanish-speaking service, police said.
The June 4 incident got the attention of the Canal Community Alliance and Congressman Jared Huffman’s office. Police contacted ICE and the FBI and learned the man was not employed by either law enforcement organization.
But the man is a San Francisco city employee and was placed on leave after he showed up wearing the jacket during the Spanish-language service at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection.
The man was driving a government vehicle registered to the city of San Francisco when he showed up at the church. The vehicle belongs to the San Francisco International Airport, city officials confirmed.
The man allegedly took pictures on a cellphone in the church parking lot and videotaped the people inside of the church, police Lt. Raffaello Pata said.
His jacket had ‘ICE’ written on it with an official looking emblem or seal on the back, Pata said.
While the man was not an ICE agent, he looked enough like one that he scared the congregation at their Sunday evening service and the incident sparked a police investigation.
Lucia Martel-Dow with the Canal Community Alliance said, “This person — out of I don’t what kind of motivations — decided to scare them and make them feel uncomfortable knowing this is something very sensitive for the Latino and Hispanic community right now.”
On Friday, police identified the man, who lives near the church.
The man told police he had prior unresolved complaints about amplified noise from the church services and went there to document it.
He could not readily explain why he wore the ICE jacket that he recently purchased online, Pata said.
Detectives learned the jacket is a novelty item that does not closely resemble the actual ICE jackets, Pata said.
But while neighbors agree it is a little loud, they also say this response is uncalled for.
Scott Stokes lives next to the church and said he doesn’t have a problem with the noise.
In fact, he finds the enthusiastic sounds emanating from the building quite enjoyable.
“If it makes them happy, I’m all with them,” Stokes said.
The unidentified man did not violate any state or federal laws, but police are referring the case to the Marin County District Attorney’s Office for review, Pata said.
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