City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is turning heads on Sunday by accompanying former terrorist Oscar López Rivera to the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
López Rivera, commuted by former President Barack Obama in January, was a member of the Puerto Rican nationalist group FALN, responsible for the 1975 bombing at Fraunces Tavern in the Financial District.
The Puerto Rican Council speaker showed her belief in López Rivera, in a 20-minute speech Saturday night at the Service Employees International Union 1199. Rivera addressed the crowd briefly as well.
“She was proud of her association with Oscar,” said Nelson Denis, who also attended the health-workers-union soiree. “[Rivera] said that Puerto Rico is at a historical point; its future is being determined right now, unfortunately, by a group that does not have the best interests of Puerto Rico at heart.”
The Puerto Rican passion comes at a major crossroads for the financially decimated US territory, a day before their non-binding referendum on statehood.
While many have the best interests of Puerto Rico as a whole at heart, Mark-Viverito’s call to honor López Rivera with the National Freedom Hero award was considered too much.
Gov. Cuomo, Police Commissioner O’Neill, and half of the 50 floats scheduled to be in the parade dropped out.
Even the Puerto Rican community itself is torn on the matter.
“I believe in freedom. He was pardoned, he served his time, but people here have the right to feel upset,” said paralegal Tanisha Pilar Dejesus, 36. “The community is divided.”
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