An apparently drunk man was caught on video harassing a woman for wearing a shirt with the flag of Puerto Rico on it, telling her she “should not be wearing that in the United States of America.” Puerto Rico is part of the United States of America.
As The Chicago Tribune reports, Mia Irizarry was at the Forest Preserves of Cook County, a Chicago-area park, when another park visitor began harassing her over her choice of shirt, apparently believing she’s celebrating a foreign country. The woman patiently tries to explain to the man, who appears to be intoxicated, that Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. The man isn’t buying it.
“We don’t own Puerto Rico. Are you educated?”
The United States does, in fact, “own” (more like, have jurisdiction over) Puerto Rico. The U.S. acquired the territory in 1898, and since 1917, Puerto Ricans have been United States citizens. Puerto Rico is not, however, a state, and its representative in Congress does not get to vote.
Regardless of the finer points of U.S. history, Ms. Irizarry didn’t appreciate being harassed and asked a nearby forest ranger for help. The “lackadaisical” police officer, as Newsweek describes him, stands by his car and does nothing, while Irizarry continues to ask for help.
“Officer, I’m renting this area, and he’s harassing me about the shirt I’m wearing.”
You can see video of the incident, which happened on June 14 but is only now going viral, below.
Eventually, more officers arrived on the scene and appeared to take a report. The man was eventually arrested and charged with assault and disorderly conduct, according to the Forest Preserves of Cook County.
In a tweet, the agency said that “all people are welcome [in the preserve],” and that no one should feel unsafe.
The officer who initially appeared to fail to respond to Ms. Irizarry has been reassigned to desk duty pending the outcome of an investigation.
Meanwhile, according to Time, the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello is quite unhappy with the way things went down that day.
“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.”
Rossello said that the Commonwealth’s offices in Washington have been in contact with Chicago officials, asking them to take a closer look at this incident. He is demanding that the officer be fired.