New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged Tuesday to march in the city’s Puerto Rican Day parade June 11 that will honor a terrorist leader.
“I believe this parade is a very, very important part of the life of our city,” de Blasio told reporters at a press conference in the Bronx.
According to the New York Post, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito came up with the idea to honor Oscar Lopez Rivera, a leader of the Puerto Rican terrorist organization known as the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN).
“This is a historic moment because we are seeing convergence and a momentum on the campaign for Oscar that really gives me a lot of hope and inspiration,” Viverito said at a press conference last Thursday.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not decided if he will partake in the parade as he has done in the past.
When asked by reporters last week if he would, Cuomo said, “This is something that I’m reviewing right now. I just heard about it, so I’m going to look at the situation.”
The New York Yankees, Coca-Cola, AT&T, the union representing officers of the New York Fire Department, and the FDNY Hispanic Society announced Tuesday they are withdrawing their support.
Goya Foods and Jet Blue had already pulled their support. Goya, the largest Latino food company in the U.S., had been sponsoring the event for 63 years prior. New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill declared he would not march.
“I cannot support a man who was a co-founder of an organization that engaged in over 120 bombings, six people killed, and seriously injured four police officers,” O’Neill said.
Lopez Rivera was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his involvement in the FALN, a group that is responsible for more than 100 bombings in New York, Chicago, Washington and Puerto Rico during the 1970s and 1980s.
Four people were killed in 1975 when an explosion occurred at the historic Fraunces Tavern in New York City, an attack the FALN was responsible for. The organization was also responsible for seriously injuring three NYPD officers in a series of bomb attacks on New Year’s Eve in 1982.
Although Lopez Rivera was never convicted of any of the bombings, a former FALN member testified against him saying he taught members how to make bombs. He was convicted again while serving his sentence after he was caught planning an escape from the prison using explosives and a helicopter.
President Obama commuted his sentence immediately before leaving the White House back in January.
“Oscar Lopez Rivera’s actions led to the death and serious injury of innocent civilians and Police Officers,” said Uniformed Fire Officers Association president Jake Lemonda in a statement to the press. “He is a convicted felon, plain and simple, and one who has not apologized or repented for his cowardly attacks.”