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Hate Crime Charges Filed Against Man Who Harassed Woman Over Puerto Rico Flag Shirt

Jul 11, 2018
Originally published on July 12, 2018 8:56 pm

Editor's note: The embedded video contains language some may find offensive.

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET Thursday

A man has been charged with hate crimes after he was seen in a video verbally harassing a woman for wearing a shirt with the flag of Puerto Rico. The Associated Press reports Timothy Trybus, 62, has been charged with two hate-crime felony counts. He had been charged earlier with misdemeanor counts of assault and disorderly conduct.

A police officer who did not intervene during the incident resigned Wednesday following criticism for not helping the woman.

"Effective today, Officer Patrick Connor no longer serves in the police department of the Forest Preserves of Cook County," the district that manages the park where the incident happened tweeted Wednesday night. "He resigned late today. But that isn't where our work ends."

A video of the incident gained attention this week and sparked backlash on social media and calls for the officer to be fired.

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 who has been identified 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 whether 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 on Monday that it was 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.

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 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 that he didn't see Trybus as a physical threat, only a "big mouth."

On Tuesday, Cook County 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 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.

The Forest Preserves added on Wednesday night that it was "further addressing aspects of this incident."

Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and residents of Puerto Rico 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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