Hate crime charges over anti-Puerto Rico rant

A video shows a Chicago man scold­ing a woman for wear­ing a T-shirt bear­ing the U.S. ter­ri­tory’s flag.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Matthew Wal­berg and Gre­gory Pratt Wal­berg and Pratt write for the Chicago Tri­bune.

CHICAGO — The Chicago man shown in a vi­ral video be­rat­ing a woman for wear­ing a Puerto Ri­can flag T-shirt has been charged with a felony hate crime.

“Af­ter a re­view of the case, we ap­proved felony hate crime charges,” said Robert Fo­ley, spokesman for the Cook County state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

Fo­ley said Ti­mothy Try­bus faces two felony hate crime counts, which are en­hance­ments on the charges of mis­de­meanor as­sault and mis­de­meanor dis­or­derly con­duct he was pre­vi­ously charged with.

Try­bus, 62, was ar­rested Thurs­day by Cook County For­est Pre­serve District po­lice and was sched­uled to ap­pear for a bond hear­ing Fri­day.

The in­ci­dent in ques­tion oc­curred June 14 in Cald­well Woods For­est Pre­serve on Chicago’s far north­west side. But it be­came widely known this week when a video of the en­counter was posted on so­cial me­dia, prompt­ing con­dem­na­tion from many lo­cal ac­tivists and politi­cians and from the gov­er­nor of Puerto Rico.

In the video, a man later iden­ti­fied as Try­bus con­fronts and screams at a woman about her shirt, telling her she should not be wear­ing it in the United States. Puerto Rico is a U.S. ter­ri­tory.

Be­sides the man’s ac­tions and com­ments, it was the ap­par­ent in­ac­tion of a for­est pre­serve po­lice of­fi­cer, seen in the back­ground, that elicited heavy crit­i­cism. The video showed the of­fi­cer seem­ingly ig­nor­ing the woman’s re­quests for his help as she ex­plains that the man is ha­rass­ing her and that she has a per­mit to be in the pub­lic space.

The fall­out since the video’s dis­sem­i­na­tion has been swift: The of­fi­cer, Pa­trick Connor, who had been placed on desk duty on June 25 dur­ing an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, re­signed on Wed­nes­day amid calls for the For­est Pre­serve District to ter­mi­nate his em­ploy­ment.

U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gu­tier­rez (D-Ill.) said in an in­ter­view that it was clear to him the state’s at­tor­ney did “the right thing.”

Gu­tier­rez, a na­tional leader on im­mi­gra­tion who has been vo­cif­er­ous in his crit­i­cism of Pres­i­dent Trump, tied the com­ments on the video to the gen­eral po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere in the coun­try.

“There should be con­se­quences. Peo­ple have to learn there are con­se­quences, es­pe­cially in the era of Trump,” Gu­tier­rez said. “I re­ally do be­lieve there are peo­ple who say to them­selves, ‘If Trump can do it, I can do it. Why can’t I go out there and say the things the pres­i­dent says?’ ”

He said this is a mo­ment when lo­cal au­thor­i­ties must step in on racial and other is­sues, be­cause he said the more con­ser­va­tive fed­eral Jus­tice De­part­ment is less in­ter­ested in these is­sues than past ad­min­is­tra­tions.

“I think this is the way un­til we re­trieve ra­tio­nal gov­er­nance at the fed­eral level,” Gu­tier­rez said.

Cook County Com­mis­sioner Je­sus “Chuy” Gar­cia had called for a hate crime charge ear­lier and said prose­cu­tors’ ac­tions were “the right thing to do in this sit­u­a­tion.”

“This should have hap­pened sooner, but some­times it takes an in­ci­dent like this to go vi­ral and for the pub­lic to chime in to re­ally make us ap­pre­ci­ate the con­se­quences of our ac­tions,” Gar­cia said.

Watch­ing the video, Gar­cia said, “it’s rea­son­able to con­clude that the way this in­di­vid­ual con­fronted the woman con­sti­tuted a hate crime. It was threat­en­ing and men­ac­ing and ob­vi­ously full of racial eth­nic ha­tred.”

Gar­cia said there was an “im­por­tant les­son” to be had. “We should not let in­tol­er­ance and ha­tred drive us to do things in pub­lic places,” he said.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Cook County Board Pres­i­dent Toni Preck­win­kle’s of­fice de­clined to com­ment.

Preck­win­kle this week apol­o­gized to the woman in the video, Mia Irizarry, calling the in­ci­dent “com­pletely un­ac­cept­able.”

Preck­win­kle also re­leased a state­ment Tues­day say­ing she’d had a phone call with Puerto Ri­can Gov. Ricardo Ros­sello, who’d ref­er­enced her di­rectly in a tweet about the video.

“I ex­pressed my re­gret over the June 14 in­ci­dent in the Cald­well Woods For­est Pre­serves and as­sured him that what is shown in the video does not rep­re­sent our val­ues in Cook County,” Preck­win­kle said.

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