They called Oscar Lopez Rivera, 74, a “freedom fighter.” But he was tried and convicted of seditious conspiracy, use of force to commit robbery, interstate transportation of firearms, and conspiracy to transport explosives with intent to destroy government property. He was a recruiter and bomb maker for the radical Puerto Rican paramilitary group called Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (FALN). They were responsible for 120 attacks in the United States. He is scheduled to be the Grand Marshal of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City on June 11, 2017.
Rivera joined the FALN, an organization that used bombings to try to make Puerto Rico an independent Communist nation. The group was reportedly behind the bombing of the New York Police Department headquarters, two Federal office buildings in Manhattan and the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn within a 90 minute period. One officer lost his leg, two detectives lost sight in their eyes, one lost the fingers on one hand and was deafened when one of the bombs detonated. A 5th bomb was dismantled before it exploded.
He was sentenced to 55 years in prison. Then in 1988, he was convicted of conspiracy to escape from Leavenworth, and 15 more years were added to his sentence.
Why are they honoring a convicted terrorist?
Rivera refused to participate in many of the criminal proceedings against him, saying that the United States had made him a political prisoner and didn’t have the authority to try him in court. President Clinton had offered him clemency, but he refused it because it would have meant he had to renounce terrorism. But when Barack Obama commuted his sentence, there were no extra rules, so he was sent to Puerto Rico and finally released on May 17, 2017.
Many activists asked Obama for his release, including Nobel Peace Prize Winners, Churches, Congress members, and several Puerto Rican officials. They believed that his 36 years in an American prison were enough.
Anthony Senft, a retired New York PD Detective who lost an eye and both eardrums in an attack led by the FALN, was on Fox Insider to denounce the whole idea of honoring a terrorist.
“[Allowing] a man who was a terrorist… to be paraded down Fifth Avenue as a hero makes me absolutely sick.” Anthony Senft
The parade has been sticking to its plan to keep Rivera as their Grand Marshal even as sponsors have been jumping ship: Coca-Cola, Goya, At&T, Jet Blue, the Yankees, and even Univision have pulled their sponsorship of the parade. Governor Cuomo has decided not to march in the parade. It remains to be seen if they can hang on until the event on June 11.
The fact that Rivera never renounced bombings as a means to the end reflects that he could still be dangerous in spite of what he claims. For his part, Mayor De Blasio will still participate in the parade… because of the votes, not doubt.