On June 14, 2018, Mia Irizarry was just trying to celebrate her 24th birthday at the Forest Preserves of Cook County in Illinois. But her birthday fun was interrupted by a bigoted man who harassed and questioned her citizenship because she wore a tee with a Puerto Rico flag on it. Now, more than a year later, said man – Timothy Trybus – has been found guilty on two felony hate crime counts.
While Trybus, 63, was belligerent in the video – which made Irizarry feel uncomfortable – he cried as the verdict was read, according to the Chicago Tribune. The incident went viral after Irizarry posted about it, and many pointed out that the police officer on the scene did not do enough to make the young woman feel safe. Initially, Trybus was going to be charged with a misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor disorderly conduct, but local leaders spoke out and said the punishment was too relaxed.
After the two-day trial, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia – a U.S. Congressman who helped get the charges changed – said, “Justice has been served with today’s guilty verdict. No one should be harassed or threatened based on race or ethnicity. The victim was simply trying to set up a picnic in a public park. … Let’s remember that diversity is our strength, and we must stand against any attempts to divide our communities.”
Trybus is due back in court on October 21 for sentencing. He faces up to five years in prison or probation.