Puerto Rican Day Parade Nixes ‘National Freedom Hero’ Award for Terrorist

FILE - In this May 18, 2017 file photo, Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera, center, who pardoned by former President Barack Obama in January, arrives for a gathering in his honor in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. Organizers of New York's Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 11 stand firm …
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File

NEW YORK CITY – Convicted terrorist Oscar López Rivera will no longer be honored in the National Puerto Rican Day Parade after a firestorm of controversy that resulted in Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a host of sponsors–from Coca-Cola to the New York Yankees–pulling out of the event.

Cuomo, Univisión, the New York Yankees, Coca-Cola, JetBlue, Goya, and AT&T pulled out of the June 11 parade in the wake of the decision to give convicted terrorist Oscar López Rivera the title of “national freedom hero.” Additionally, NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill, as well as the NYPD and FDNY Hispanic societies, refused to attend the parade.

Other politicians, such as liberal Mayor Bill de Blasio, said they would still participate in the march.

In an article for the New York Daily News, López Rivera said he would still forgo the honor and instead march only as a “humble Puerto Rican and grandfather.”

“I will be on Fifth Ave. not as your honoree but as a humble Puerto Rican and grandfather who at 74 continues to be committed to helping raise awareness about the fiscal, health care and human rights crisis Puerto Rico is facing at this historic juncture,” he said.

López Rivera was a key member of the radical Marxist Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), which conducted more than 100 bombings in the United States in the seventies and eighties, killing five people, injuring dozens, and causing millions of dollars worth of damage.

López Rivera was convicted on charges of transporting guns and bombs and was released this month after serving 35 years. Former President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January. López Rivera has denied being a terrorist but said, “colonized people” have a right to use force against their oppressors.

The organizers said in a statement in May that, “Oscar’s participation is not an endorsement of the history that led to his arrest, nor any form of violence. But rather a recognition of a man and a nation’s struggle for sovereignty.”

In his article, López Rivera said it was time to “move on.”

“Let’s be puertorriqueños and puertorriqueñas. The honor should not be for me; it should be bestowed on our pioneers who came to the United States and opened doors. It should go for activists and elected officials who fight for justice and a fair society,” he said.

Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

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