A Cook County Forest Preserves police officer has been assigned to desk duty after he was seen on video allowing a man to harass a woman who was wearing a shirt that featured the Puerto Rican flag.
Video of the June 14 incident at an undisclosed Cook County Forest Preserve has since gone viral, garnering more than 1 million views on Facebook alone. But as of Monday night, the 36-minute video was no longer available on the social media site. But shorter edited versions were still bouncing around Twitter and other platforms.
Monday, the Cook County Forest Preserves tweeted that the officer who provided the lax response had been placed on desk duty as the police department investigates.
Mia Irizarry, who said she had rented a forest preserve pavilion for a birthday party, posted the 36-minute video to her Facebook page on June 14.
An unidentified, middle-aged white man can be seen approaching Irizarry and asking her about her shirt — which depicted a Puerto Rican flag — and her citizenship status.
“Are you a citizen? Then you should not be wearing that,” the man said. “I would like to know is she an American citizen? Why is she wearing that s—?”
“You’re not going to change us,” he added. “The world is not going to change the United States of America. You should not be wearing that in the United States of America.”
It’s unclear what provoked the man to approach Irizarry, who was with a group of several other people. The forest preserves announced Monday that the man — who they say was intoxicated — had been charged with assault and disorderly conduct.
It’s unclear which forest preserve the incident occurred in and a representative for the forest preserve did not respond to inquiries Monday night.
The officer who initially responded to Irizarry and her group can be seen standing still, more than 20 feet away, as the man approached Irizarry.
All people are welcome in the Forest Preserves of Cook County and no one should feel unsafe while visiting our preserves.— Forest Preserves (@FPDCC) July 9, 2018
On several occasions she called out to the officer who was first on the scene, telling him how uncomfortable she was with the man harassing her.
“I do not feel comfortable with him here; is there anything you can do?” she asks.
“He didn’t do anything,” Irizarry says a short time later, apparently referring to the police officer.
Eventually, more officers arrived and the woman was able to file a police report.
The United States acquired Puerto Rico as a territory in 1899. While citizens of the island can not vote in United States presidential elections, those born there are still U.S. citizens.