All Mia Irizarry wanted to do was celebrate her 24th birthday. What she got instead was a horrific moment that she will most likely never forget. On June 14, Irizarry rented out a pavilion at a public park in Chicago to host a party for her birthday. While she was setting up, an older man, identified as Timothy Trybus, approached her angrily because of her Puerto Rico flag shirt.
Timothy Trybus confronted Mia Irizarry about wearing her Puerto Rico flag shirt while being in America.
Irizarry recorded the entire confrontation, which was 30-minutes long, and posted it on Facebook. The incident happened last month but police have finally arrested Trybus over the incident and has been charged with two felony hate crimes. These filed hate crime charges will enhace the misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor disorderly conduct he was originally charged with.
The man, who was reportedly intoxicated, asked if Irizarry was an American citizen.
“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—?”
“First of all, the United States owns Puerto Rico,” Irizarry responded.
“You’re not going to change us,” the man said. “The world is not going to change the United States of America. You should not be wearing that in the United States of America.”
While there was a male police officer on the scene, he did not help Irizarry despite her pleas for assistance and has resigned.
“I do not feel comfortable with him here; is there anything you can do?” Irizarry asks the police officer.
The officer has been identified as Patrick Connor, a 12-year veteran of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. He has resigned from the department after severe backlash from his actions in the video.
A female police officer was the only one that told the man he had to stop harassing Irizarry.
While more officers were on the scene later, it wasn’t until a female officer arrived that she was able to control the man.
Mitúhas reached out to Irizarry and will update this story when she responds.
Before Trump was president, many opponents of the man swore that electing a person with a history of racist behavior would encourage closeted bigots to be more vocal with their hate. This claim has proved to be true basically time and time again in the years since he was elected on nearly a weekly basis. Attacks on Muslim and Latinx people have been sanctioned by government policies but we have also seen disturbingly bigoted behavior from average citizens. Hate crimes have skyrocketed since 2016 and viral videos of racist attacks and abuse are commonplace on the internet.
The latest act of xenophobia comes from Trump’s July Twitter tantrum against Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow freshmen congresswomen. In it, the president insisted that those who don’t like how America currently works should just leave. It’s a command most Black and brown people have heard at least once in their lives and it again invites undercover racists to be bold enough to let their hatred for minorities show.
One of the latest examples of the freedom racists feel is a video coming out of Abington, Pennsylvania that shows a white woman accosting a Puerto Rican woman at a grocery store.
Twitter / @jftaveria1993
On June 30th, 2019, Johanny Santana was standing in line at the grocery store when a child came into the line to ask his grandfather a question. The child and grandfather spoke Spanish to each other and this caused a white woman who was also in line to cuss at the boy. Hearing this, Santana started recording with her phone to capture any further encounters. The boy left and came back, only to have another woman object. This is when Santana stepped in and changed the focus to her.
In a video posted to Facebook, Santana asks the other woman if she had a problem with the individuals speaking Spanish after the white woman loudly complains, “Any century now.” The White woman then told Santana, “Can you stop talking to me? You’re a p*ta.” After Santana told the woman not to say that word, she responded again, repeating, “You’re a p*ta.”
It’s then that the altercation turned overtly racist.
Twitter / @CasaDeDre
The woman launched into a bigoted diatribe aimed at Santana. In the video, she can be heard saying:
“You shouldn’t be in this country. I hope Trump deports you. I was born here, you don’t belong here, go back to your own country. You don’t belong here, you came here illegally. You should be deported.”
The unidentified white woman then accused Santana of using “drug money” to buy her groceries. In the video, she is seen flashing cash at the Boricua and telling her that her money was legal, unlike what Santana was using.
In the video, Santana can be heard retaliating with her own insults.
Facebook / @CaleroRaquel
In response to her own words, Santana told NBC News that she felt ashamed and powerless.
“I regret it because I didn’t want to tell her that. I felt powerless because I didn’t speak English well enough to be able to properly respond to her.”
The community that Santana lives in only has a population of 55,310 according to the 2010 Census. Of that population, almost 80% is white and only 3% of residents are Latinx. According to the Pew Research Center, Puerto Ricans are the second-largest Latinx group in the United States. Since Puerto Rico is a United States territory, citizens of the island — including Santana — are also US citizens. Still, even if they weren’t, this attack would remain grossly racist.
Twitter reacted with outrage in response to yet another recorded attack on people of color by racists.
Twitter / @sahluwal
Twitter users were quick to share the video thousands of times online. Many pointed out how ridiculous the woman was and how quick she was to jump into racists insults — as if she had them queued up and ready to rip. Others called on the social media site to do its thing and expose the woman pictured in the video. She is still unidentified as of now but one thing remains clear: There are far more people who feel this way in our nation than most are willing to admit. Until racists are exposed and called out in every community, racism will continue to be an ugly part of American life.
Over the last week, Puerto Rico has been hit with multiple political scandals that have motivated thousands of people on the island and in the diaspora to protest. Puerto Ricans are calling for the resignation of its governor, its fiscal control board and, for a growing sum, its colonial ties to the United States. A lot of the unrest stems from recent private messages released that showed the governor using offensive language against women, the LGBTQ+ community, and Hurricane Maria Victims.
Puerto Rico is being rocked with a growing political scandal.
On Wednesday, the FBI arrested former Education Secretary Julia Keleher, former Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration head Angela Avila-Marrero, businessmen Fernando Scherrer-Caillet and Alberto Velazquez-Piñol, and education contractors Glenda E. Ponce-Mendoza and Mayra Ponce-Mendoza, who are sisters, on 32 counts of fraud and related charges.
The streets were filled with people demanding that the governor resign facing corruptions and damning messages leaked to the public.
The corruption scheme, which ushered federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors, involves $15.5 million in federal funding between 2017 and 2019. Of that, 13 million was spent by the Department of Education during Keleher’s time as secretary. During her two-year term, Keleher, an Italian-American educational leader from Philadelphia, was criticized by the people of Puerto Rico for closing down hundreds of schools and implementing the island’s first charter school. The additional $2.5 million was spent by the insurance administration when Avila was the director.
The governor was caught in a chat using grotesque homophobic and sexist language.
Just days later, on Saturday, the island experienced another political blow: Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published 889 pages of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s private Telegram chat. The secret messages, between him and several of his aides, included profanity-laced, and at times misogynistic, homophobic and violent, comments and memes about several high-profile women politicians, celebrities, the press and even the victims of Hurricane María.
Puerto Rico-born former New York city council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is one person the governor attacked.
“All of my solidarity with my friend @CarmenYulinCruz for the unacceptable attacks by @ricardorossello,” Mark-Viverito tweeted. “The women are not ‘b*tches’ nor ‘sons of b*tches,’ we are fighting, courageous, and dignified human beings who contribute to society. Stop the machismo!”
In one chat, Rosselló calls Mark-Viverito a “puta” for criticizing DNC Chair Tom Perez, who was siding with statehood Democrats like Rosselló, who is the leader of the Statehood party in Puerto Rico. In another, the governor’s former chief financial officer Christian Sobrino said of San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who is running for Puerto Rico governor in the 2020 elections, that he was “dying to shoot her up.” Rosselló replied: “You’d be doing me a big favor.”
Mark-Viverito, who now heads the Latino Victory Project, released a statement in response to the governor’s violent sexism.
“The governor’s machismo was exposed,” she said in Spanish. “When a male chauvinist wants to belittle a woman, he uses words like “whore” to belittle, dehumanize and degrade her. A person who uses that language against a woman, whether a public figure or not, should not govern Puerto Rico.”
The conversations also included transphobic remarks about transgender and gender nonconforming protestors and homophobic comments about Ricky Martin.
“It is shameful and unacceptable and it isn’t resolved with an apology,” Martin tweeted. “This is not the government we need. This is not the Puerto Rico that our grandparents and parents built and even less [the Puerto Rico] we want to leave to our children.”
One associate wrote, “Nothing says patriarchal oppression like Ricky Martin. He is such a male chauvinist that he f–ks men because women don’t measure up. Pure patriarchy.”
Probably the most stomach-churning exchange in the leaked chat was Sobrino joking about the backlog of dead bodies after the devastating 2017 storm.
“Now that we are on the subject, don’t we have some cadavers to feed our crows? Clearly, they need attention,” he wrote, likely referencing journalists and the administration’s critics, who long questioned Rosselló’s assertion that the hurricane claimed only 64 lives. A Harvard study later put the death toll at 4,645.
The impropriety, which has been nicknamed #TelegramGate, has been likened to the Watergate scandal, which rocked President Nixon’s administration in the 1970s and ultimately led to his resignation.
“For Puerto Ricans, this has been basically our Watergate,” Caribbean scholar Yarimar Bonilla, who writes about post-Hurricane Maria recovery, told CBS News. “The government is distracted thinking about its image, worrying about how they’re being represented in the press instead of attending to matters of the recovery.”
While two members of Rosselló’s cabinet have offered their resignations, the people are similarly calling on Rosselló to step down.
For several days, thousands of protestors have taken over the streets of Old San Juan, packing the cobblestone lane in front of La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion, demanding that he immediately give up his seat. On Monday, the mostly-peaceful action turned violent when police officers tear-gassed crowds, injuring dozens and arresting five protestors. The streets were ablaze, but the people, enlivened, stayed chanting that they were not afraid.
They’re not alone. Celebrities like Ricky Martin, Residente, Kany Garcia, Jon Z and more have taken to social media calling on the governor to resign. Meanwhile, rapper PJ Sin Suela released a heated track called PUTA, referencing Rosselló’s misogynistic comments, about political corruption on the island, and Bad Bunny announced on Instagram that he would be leaving Europe, where he is touring, to fly to Puerto Rico and march with the people on Wednesday.
Bad Bunny posted a video as a call to action for all Puerto Ricans to march and demonstrate.
Across the U.S., Puerto Ricans of the diaspora have also united, with protests in New York, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, and more scheduled for Tuesday in Miami and Orlando, where a majority of Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane María found refuge.
Despite the massive calls, on Tuesday morning, Rosselló, who has apologized for his “improper acts” and attended an Evangelical church where pastors prayed over him, insisted that he would not resign.
“I have not committed an illegal act and I have not committed an act of corruption,” he said during a press conference. “I committed some improper acts and I asked forgiveness for that.”
The governor also noted that the prime reason he would not resign is that he “was elected by the people” — despite many of those Puerto Ricans now begging for his removal.