In the video below, a drunken Timothy G. Trybus harasses a woman wearing a shirt showing the flag of Puerto Rico. He steps into her personal space and speaks to her in offensive terms. She asks a nearby police officer, identified as Patrick Connor, to remove him.
Governor Ricardo Rossello has asked that the police officer be fired. Connor has been placed on desk duty pending the outcome of the police department’s investigation.
Timothy G. Trybus was eventually arrested for assault and drunk and disorderly conduct. A report from NPR says that a second police officer arrived at one point and told the offender “You don’t come here harassing people. People have as much right as you to be here, and when you’re drunk, you don’t belong here.”
Rossello tweeted, “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.”
The President of the Cook County board tweeted, “I am very sorry for the experience the young woman had to en[d]ure and I’m further troubled by the lack of response and action by the initial officer on the scene.” She reportedly spoke with Governor Rossello, too.
This is a story about police response to threatening behavior. It’s a story that underlines the fact that sexual harassment is not uncommon, especially when alcohol is involved. This event is sparking conversations about these issues in social media and in homes and workplaces across the nation.
It’s also a story about ignorance about Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States.
“The United States owns Puerto Rico,” the woman informs her harasser at one point.
Trybus disagrees. He is wrong. Puerto Rico is a territory belonging to the United States. People born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.
“Puerto Rico is an American state!” an off-camera speaker announced in the video “They voted for our president.”
This man is also wrong. Puerto Rico is not a state, though there is a bill currently in the House Natural Resources Committee which will make Puerto Rico a state if it is passed.
Trybus might have chosen another pretext for harassing this woman if she hadn’t been wearing a T-shirt adorned with the Puerto Rican flag. But the statements made in the video show that there are still many people who do not understand Puerto Rico’s status.