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Woman harassed for wearing Puerto Rican shirt speaks out


A woman shown on a video being confronted by a man because she was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the Puerto Rican flag said Friday that the only action a park officer took to defuse the situation was to tell her cousin who’d stepped in to protect her to calm down.

Speaking at a news conference surrounded by leaders of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community, Mia Irizarry recounted the June 14 incident that received national attention after release of the video. 

Hate crime charges have been filed against 62-year-old Timothy Trybus, and Chicago forest preserve officer Patrick Connor has resigned.

‘It was extremely surreal to think that someone whose job is to protect and serve could just completely walk away…’ she said at a park in a Chicago neighborhood with a large Puerto Rican population, in her first public comments about the incident. 

Speaking at a news conference surrounded by leaders of Chicago's Puerto Rican community, Mia Irizarry recounted the June 14 incident that received national attention after release of the video

Speaking at a news conference surrounded by leaders of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community, Mia Irizarry recounted the June 14 incident that received national attention after release of the video

Irizarry was shown on a video being confronted by a man because she was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the Puerto Rican flag

Irizarry was shown on a video being confronted by a man because she was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the Puerto Rican flag

A Chicago police officer is being investigated after video showed him ignoring Mia Irizarry's pleas for help while a man berated her for wearing a Puerto Rico shirt

Pictured is the Puerto Rico shirt Irizarry was wearing at the time of the incident

Charges were filed against Timothy Trybus (left), 62, and Chicago forest preserve officer Patrick Connor has resigned. Connor is being investigated after video showed him ignoring Irizarry’s pleas for help while she was berated for wearing a Puerto Rico shirt (pictured right) 

Irizarry (pictured) posted a Facebook Live video as the man, who was drunk, repeatedly came up to her and yelled 'Why is she wearing that s**t?'

Irizarry's video has since been viewed more than a million times

Irizarry (pictured) posted a Facebook Live video as the man, who was drunk, repeatedly came up to her and yelled ‘Why is she wearing that s**t?’

‘If I hadn’t recorded it I am pretty sure (the incident) would not have ended with my safety.’

Irizarry, who was in the Chicago’s Caldwell Woods Forest Preserve when she was confronted by Trybus, recounted the feeling of helplessness she felt after Trybus asked if the flag on the shirt was that of Texas and responded that it was the flag of Puerto Rico.

Trybus scolded her, saying: ‘You should not be wearing that in the United States of America,’ and questioned her about whether she was an American citizen. 

Connor appeared to stand quietly several feet away. She said that ‘just encouraged (Trybus) to be more aggressive. So I was scared.’

Puerto Rican citizens automatically have U.S. citizenship.

She said she remains ‘severely disappointed’ that Connor quit without publicly explaining his decision not to come to her aid.

‘I will never get to hear from this man, this protector, his reasoning for why my safety, no, my life, had such little value to him,’ she said, adding that she grateful that he no longer has a job where he might treat other like her.

Irizzary had paid for a permit to hold a birthday party at Caldwell Woods when the man - who has been identified as Timothy Trybus - approached her

Video shows that Trybus got extremely close to Irizarry as he heckled her

Irizzary had paid for a permit to hold a birthday party at Caldwell Woods when Trybus approached her and got in her face

'Officer, I'm renting this area and he's harassing me about the shirt I'm wearing,' Irizzary then repeatedly tells the cop during the video

But the cop comes nowhere near Irizzary as Trybus repeatedly gets in her face

‘Officer, I’m renting this area and he’s harassing me about the shirt I’m wearing,’ Irizzary then repeatedly tells the cop, Connor, during the video as he continues to stand and do nothing 

A Chicago alderman and a state senator of Puerto Rican descent said the fallout from the incident is not over. 

State Senator Omar Aquino urged Irizarry to sue the officer, reminding her that he pushed through legislation that allows her to ‘sue someone for a hate crime.’

Alderman Roberto Maldonado, wearing a t-shirt with a flag of Puerto Rico on it, urged Chicago residents to wear similar shirts on July 20 to protest her treatment.

Trybus appeared in court Friday on charges of a hate crime, assault and disorderly conduct. 

His attorney, David Goldman, characterized his client’s behavior toward Irizarry as ‘obnoxious,’ but attributed it to a combination of alcohol and pain pills after having six teeth removed the day before.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said that Judge Earl Hoffenberg ordered Trybus released on his promise to appear in court. 

He also ordered him placed on electronic home monitoring, to undergo alcohol assessment, and prohibited him from having any contact with Irizarry or any witnesses in the case or set foot on forest preserve property.

It is only when Irizzary's brother approaches the drunk man that the officer speaks

The officer tells him to 'relax' when Irizzary's brother gets close (pictured)

It is only when Irizzary’s brother approaches the drunk man that the officer speaks, telling him to ‘relax’ when he gets close (pictured right) 

'Officer, I feel highly uncomfortable, can you please grab him, please?' she asks the cop again while Trybus continues to yell at her and asks if she's an American citizen

For most of the video the cop is seen far away from Irizzary, as seen here

‘Officer, I feel highly uncomfortable, can you please grab him, please?’ she asks the cop again while Trybus continues to yell at her and asks if she’s an American citizen 

He is scheduled to return to court Aug. 1.

Connor, a 12-year veteran with the Forest Preserves of Cook County, was initially placed on desk duty after cellphone footage showed him allowing Mia Irizzary to be verbally abused.

He stepped down on Wednesday and police say they are continuing to investigate the incident.

Irizarry had posted a Facebook Live video of the June 14 incident, showing Timothy Trybus, who was apparently drunk, repeatedly came up to her and yelled ‘Why is she wearing that s**t?’

More officers then arrive at the scene and a female cop sits Trybus down and threatens to charge him (pictured) 

More officers then arrive at the scene and a female cop sits Trybus down and threatens to charge him (pictured) 

The Cook County Forest Preserve officer can be seen in the video standing in the background, not moving closer as Trybus continued to come up to Irizzary.

Irizzary had paid for a permit to hold a birthday party at Caldwell Woods when Trybus first approached her.

‘Are you educated?’ Trybus asks her in the clip. ‘Why are you wearing that?’

‘Officer, I’m renting this area and he’s harassing me about the shirt I’m wearing,’ Irizzary then tells the cop, who had already been called to the scene to investigate Trybus’ intoxicated behavior.

Irizzary was wearing a shirt made to look like the Puerto Rico flag, with the words ‘Puerto Rico’ written on the top.

‘You’re not going to change us, you know that,’ Trybus tells her in the clip. ‘The world is not going to change the United States of America. Are you a citizen?’

‘I’m an American citizen…I’m not trying to change anyone, I just came here for a birthday party,’ Irizzary tells him as he gets in her face.

‘Officer, I feel highly uncomfortable, can you please grab him, please?’ she asks the cop again.

‘If she’s an American citizen, why is she wearing that s**t?’ Trybus shouts.

Irizzary then begins to talk to her Facebook Live viewers, saying: ‘As you can see the police are not even, he’s not even grabbing him.’

Trybus is seen above in a mug shot taken by Cook County on July 12

Trybus is seen above in a mug shot taken by Cook County on July 12

‘This guy is just walking up to me, he basically got in my face.’

Irizzary then tries to plead with policeman again, saying: ‘Officer, I paid for a permit for this area, I do not feel comfortable here, is there anything you can do?’

But the officer continues to do nothing or even move closer to Irizzary as the man continues to approach her.

‘That officer did absolutely nothing he did absolutely zero,’ she says in the clip. ‘I told him I felt uncomfortable multiple times and he did not do anything.’

At one point Irizzary’s brother returns from grabbing food for the party and tries to get Trybus to leave her alone.

That’s when the officer finally speaks up, telling the brother to ‘relax’.

More officers then arrive at the scene and a female cop sits Trybus down and threatens to charge him.

‘People have just as much right to be here as you do,’ she can be heard telling him in the clip.

The female officer then interviews Irizzary, who tells her that the first officer on the scene stood ‘watching the whole thing happen’. 

Irizarry filmed the video about a month ago, but it has gained recent traction and since been watched more than a million times.

The video even got the attention of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello, who said he was ‘appalled, shocked, and disturbed by the officer’s behavior’.

Trybus was arrested and charged with assault and disorderly conduct, the Forest Preserves revealed on Tuesday 

Trybus was arrested and charged with assault and disorderly conduct, the Forest Preserves revealed on Tuesday 

The video even got the attention of Puerto Rico Gov Ricardo Rosello, who said he was 'appalled, shocked, and disturbed by the officer's behavior'

The video even got the attention of Puerto Rico Gov Ricardo Rosello, who said he was ‘appalled, shocked, and disturbed by the officer’s behavior’

‘We will be looking into this incident as our offices in DC are in contact with local and state authorities, demanding that this officer be expelled from the police force,’ Rosello tweeted on Tuesday.

‘He failed to deescalate the situation and therefore did not ensure a citizen’s safety.’

Rosello also called on Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to take the matter ‘into her hands’.

‘The United States of America is a nation that was built and thrives on diversity,’ Rosello continued in a separate tweet.

‘We cannot allow those who do not understand America’s greatness to terrorize people because of their background. This is not the America we all believe in.’

Preckwinkle called the video ‘completely unacceptable’ and said she was ‘troubled’ by the officer’s response to the ‘terrible’ incident.

She plans to interview all officers at the scene as well as Irizarry and said the video will be used in future training exercises by the Forest Preserves.  



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