Authorities in Illinois are investigating an incident caught on video in which a white man harangued a Latino woman who was wearing a shirt displaying the Puerto Rican flag at a local park.

In addition, officials from the Forest Preserves of Cook County, which runs several wooded areas that surround Chicago, are looking into the behavior of a police officer who observed the incident and appeared to do little or nothing to stop it.

"After the incident, we immediately launched an investigation pursuant to our personnel policies into the response of our officer," the organization said in a series of tweets. "The investigation is ongoing and the officer involved has been assigned to desk duty pending the outcome.”

In the statement, Forest Preserves said the man, who they did not identify, had been arrested and charged with assault and disorderly conduct.

The developments came after video of the harassment, which occurred last month, was posted on Facebook and went viral. The footage was recorded by Mia Irizarry, who was setting up a picnic in the park to celebrate her 24th birthday.

As she was making the preparations, the man approached her and demanded to know why she was wearing her shirt, which also had the words "Puerto Rico" written on it.

"You should not be wearing that in the United States of America," the man shouts, adding, "Are you a citizen? Are you a United States citizen?"

Irizarry responds that she is wearing the shirt “because I can” and explains that Puerto Rico is part of the United States.

“We don’t own Puerto Rico,” the man says. “Are you educated?” Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898 and is classified as a Free Associated State or commonwealth.

Irizarry, who remains polite throughout the confrontation, calling the man “sir,” then asked a nearby park police officer to help, saying "I am renting this area and he's harassing me about the shirt that I'm wearing."

When the policeman did nothing, she again requests help. "Officer, I feel entirely uncomfortable, can you remove ... please officer." The officer is then seen walking away.

"Officer, I'm renting, I paid for a permit for this area,” she adds. “I do not feel comfortable with him here, is there anything you can do?"

The officer then approaches the man, who uses an expletive.

As more police arrive, Irizarry tells them she still doesn't feel safe as the man continues his tirade. "You're not American, if you were American you wouldn't wear that,” he shouts. “You know that, right?"

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A female officer then intervenes and explains that Irizarry has a permit. She also warns him that he could be arrested "for not being compliant."

"You don't come here harassing people," the officer continues. "People have just as much right to be here as you and when you're drunk, you don't belong here."

Later in the video, Irizarry comments about the male officer, saying he “did absolutely nothing. He did absolutely zero. I told him I felt uncomfortable multiple times … literally here watching this and he did not do anything.”

On Monday, Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselo tweeted an angry reaction about the incident.

“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,” he said.

 

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