Puerto Rico Governor Reacts to Viral Video of Woman Harassed by 'Bigot' for Flag T-Shirt

The governor of Puerto Rico has condemned the incident in which a man harassed a woman for wearing a T-shirt with the Puerto Rican flag. The man repeatedly told the woman “You should not be wearing that in the United States of America” and questioned her U.S. citizenship.

Footage of the incident, which took place last month, resurfaced online in recent days and one Facebook post with the clip had nearly 2 million views at time of publication. The video shows a man angrily approaching a woman who is filming him as he yells “You're not gonna change us” while a nearby police officer stands by his car and looks away as the distressed woman calls out for help.

“We will be looking into this incident as our offices in D.C. are in contact with local and state authorities, demanding that this officer be expelled from the police force,” Governor Ricardo Rosselló wrote on Twitter after the video went viral on Monday. “He failed to de-escalate the situation and therefore did not ensure a citizen's safety.”

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The flags of Puerto Rico and the United States fly side-by-side, May 8, 2017, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A woman in Illinois was reportedly harassed for wearing a T-shirt with a Puerto Rican flag. Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Roselló criticized the officer's behavior but expressed faith that local authorities would appropriately address the incident, which seems to have taken place in Cook County, Illinois.

It is not immediately clear how the altercation began. The video opened with the man approaching the woman, identified as Mia Irizarry, to dispute the status of Puerto Rico. The island is an unincorporated U.S. territory and has remained under U.S. protection since 1898. Although Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, they must register in one of the 50 states to vote in presidential elections.

After the two quibbled about the U.S. government's relationship with Puerto Rico, Irizarry asked the man what the point of his agitation was. “My point is, why are you wearing that?” he said.

“Because I can,” she answered, before appealing to the police to intervene, saying she had rented some of the park's outdoor seating.

“You're not renting anything,” the man insisted as he approached her.

“Can you please step away from me?” Irizarry insisted as she backed away from him, which only made the man more irate.

“The world is not gonna change the United States of America. Period,” the man insisted, ignoring Irizarry's comments that she was only there for a birthday party and was not trying to “change anything.”

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The exchange continued as the man got angrier and followed the woman away from the picnic area, yelling at her not to wear “that shit” in the U.S. While both pleaded to the police officer who was pacing languidly around them—with Irizarry calling for help as the angry stranger asked “Is she an American citizen”—the officer walked away. Irizarry's brother intervened to stop the man from following her. His rants eventually subsided after an apparent acquaintance told him to be quiet.

After the video went viral this week, Cook County Forest Preserves announced on Twitter that authorities had assigned the officer to desk duty and explained that the harasser had been intoxicated during the altercation. “All people are welcome in the Forest Preserves of Cook County, and no one should feel unsafe while visiting our preserves.”