Hate crime charges filed after man seen on video confronting woman over Puerto Rico shirt
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 crimes charges,” said Robert Foley, spokesman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Foley said Timothy Trybus faces two counts of felony hate crime, 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 is scheduled to appear for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
The incident in question occurred June 14 in Caldwell Woods Forest Preserve on the 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.
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 Gutierrez said in an interview it’s 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 in time when local authorities must step in on racial and other issues, as 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.”
A representative of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office declined to comment about the charges.
Preckwinkle earlier this week apologized to the woman in the video, Mia Irizarry, while speaking at an unrelated event, 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 in the statement.
Walberg and Pratt write for the Chicago Tribune.
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