A woman who was trying to celebrate her 24th birthday at a Chicago park instead found herself being the target of a racist tirade from a man who got menacingly close, even as a nearby police officer failed to intervene.
Mia Irizarry was setting up her party when the man started harassing her for wearing a Puerto Rico flag shirt.
"You should not be wearing that in the United States of America," the man says at one point in the 35-minute video, which was recorded in mid-June and posted to Facebook using its live video function. "Are you a citizen? Are you a United States citizen?"
Puerto Rico, of course, is a commonwealth territory of the United States, and all its residents are US citizens.
The video was filmed in mid-June and posted to Facebook, but only recently went viral when it resurfaced Monday and got the attention of prominent politicians and activists on social media, including the governor of Puerto Rico, who called it an "undignified event."
"Today a video surfaced of an undignified event in which a Puerto Rican woman was brutally harassed by a bigot while an officer did not interfere. I am appalled, shocked & disturbed by the officer’s behavior," Ricardo Rosselló tweeted.
Today a video surfaced of an undignified event in which a Puerto Rican woman was brutally harassed by a bigot while an officer did not interfere. I am appalled, shocked & disturbed by the officer’s behavior https://t.co/F9L4ewt1Ac @DavidBegnaud @ACLU
In the video, Irizarry can be heard asking the man to leave her alone, and when he persists, she begs the Cook County Forest Preserves officer to help.
“Can you please get away from me?” Irizarry tells the man. “Officer, I feel highly uncomfortable, can you please grab him?”
The officer, however, just stands there and observes the confrontation.
On Monday, the official Twitter account for Forest Preserves of Cook County said officials were “aware of the incident” and had launched an investigation “into the response of our officer,” who has been reassigned to desk duty.
“The intoxicated individual involved in the incident was arrested and charged with assault and disorderly conduct,” officials added. “All people are welcome in the Forest Preserves of Cook County and no one should feel unsafe while visiting our preserves.”
Officials would not immediately confirm the identity of the man, but the Chicago Tribune, citing police reports, identified him as 62-year-old Timothy G. Trybus.
From the time the man began to harass Irizarry to when he was finally arrested and taken away, it had been two hours, Irizarry said in an interview with Latino Rebels.
“I want people to realize that racism is very much alive and we need to do better as a country,” said Irizarry, who did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' requests for comment.
US member of Congress Luis Gutiérrez also tweeted after viewing the video, saying there's “a culture of bigotry & hate that's been condoned in US, which now feels unleashed to express itself in the most ugly & aggressive ways.”
The officer's lack of action was also the subject of ire.
“In this case, a US citizen questions the citizenship of another US citizen and American law-enforcement just sits back and watches,” Rep. Gutiérrez, who represents a district close to where the incident took place, said.
I can't tell what upsets me more about this clip: 1) Racist drunk who thinks Latinos & Puerto Ricans are threat to USA 2) Officer who does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING; OR 3) The fact that this took place in Cook County. https://t.co/nRg0wMWRFb