The VICE Guide to Right Now

Man Harasses Latina for ‘Un-American’ Puerto Rico Shirt While Cop Does Nothing

"You should not be wearing that in the United States of America. Are you a citizen?"
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US

Update 7/12: The officer has since resigned.

Last month, Mia Irizarry was setting up a picnic for her 24th birthday in a park outside of Chicago when, out of nowhere, a white man barged up to her and started berating her about her shirt: a tank top with the Puerto Rican flag on it. The guy, apparently unclear that Puerto Rico is an American territory, said her shirt was "un-American" and questioned her citizenship—all while a nearby cop stood by, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.


In a video Irizarry uploaded to Facebook, the man storms up to her, demanding to know why she's wearing the shirt, asking if she's "educated," and coming just inches away from her while he goes on a tirade.

"I would like to know is she an American citizen? Why is she wearing that shit?” the man barks. "You’re not going to change us. The world is not going to change the United States of America. You should not be wearing that in the United States of America.”

Meanwhile, Iziarry calmly explains that she has a permit to use the park's pavilion and repeatedly asks the nearby officer for help, telling him she feels "highly uncomfortable." But the cop appears to do nothing—just mills around by his car while Irizarry asks the man to "please get away from me."

Eventually, more cops show up and sit the man down. According to Irizarry, the guy was cuffed and placed in the back of a squad car, and the parks department refunded what she payed to reserve the pavilion. The man, who was allegedly drunk, has since been charged with assault and disorderly conduct, the Forest Preserves District of Cook County wrote in a statement. The officer who failed to step in while Irizarry was being harassed is now under investigation.

Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rossello weighed in on what happened Monday, tweeting that he was "appalled, shocked & disturbed by the officer’s behavior," and demanding that he be fired from the force.

Irizarry is just the latest person of color to have their completely benign summer activity—like going to the pool or selling water—ruined by a white person for absolutely no reason. And just to be clear: Yes, Puerto Ricans are American citizens.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.