Editor’s note: The embedded video contains language some may find offensive.
A video of an older white man verbally harassing a young woman for wearing a shirt of the Puerto Rican flag has sparked backlash on social media and calls for a police officer to be fired for not intervening.
The Facebook video from June 14, shot by 24-year-old Mia Irizarry in a covered picnic bench area in a park in Chicago, shows a man repeatedly harassing her about her shirt.
“Why is she wearing that s***?” he says at one point.
“If you’re an American citizen, you should not be wearing that shirt in America,” he says at another point.
For several minutes, a law enforcement officer whose uniform bears the last name “Connor” and was identified by news outlets as Patrick Connor, stands by on the other side of the picnic area.
“Officer, can you — I’m renting this area and he’s harassing me about the shirt that I’m wearing,” Irizarry says. It’s not clear if the officer responds, as he is off camera at that point. She tells Connor she feels “highly uncomfortable,” but in the video he appears to turn and walk in the other direction.
The Forest Preserves of Cook County, which manages the area, tweeted that it is investigating the incident and assigned the officer to desk duty.
“The intoxicated individual involved in the incident was arrested and charged with assault and disorderly conduct,” the district wrote on Monday. Reports identify the man as 62-year-old Timothy Trybus.
Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of Puerto Rico, said he was “appalled, shocked & disturbed by the officer’s behavior.” Rosselló wrote on Twitter that the officer should be “expelled from the police force” because he “failed to deescalate the situation and therefore did not ensure a citizen’s safety.”
About 10 minutes into the Irizarry’s 36-minute video, more police officers arrive. Another officer instructs Trybus to sit at a different table, while officers talk to a man who appears to be a friend or acquaintance of Trybus.
“You’re not an American,” Trybus continues to tell Irizarry. “If you’re an American, you wouldn’t be wearing that.”
A female officer tells Trybus, “you don’t come here harassing people,” adding, “when you’re drunk you don’t belong here.”
Irizarry gives a statement to the police officer, Connor, who had stood by earlier. Connor explains that he was called to the area for an incident between Trybus and another person and he didn’t see Trybus as a physical threat, only a “big mouth.”
On Tuesday, Cook County’s Board President Toni Preckwinkle tweeted, “I am very sorry for the experience the young woman had to en[d]ure and I’m further troubled by the lack of response and action by the initial officer on the scene.” She said she had spoken with Gov. Rosselló, telling him the behavior in the video “does not represent our values in Cook County.”
Preckwinkle said Connor would face “disciplinary action” depending on the results of the Forest Preserves’ investigation.
Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, but they can’t vote in presidential elections and have no voting representation in Congress.
A poll last year by Morning Consult found that almost half of Americans don’t know that people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.
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