Mayor de Blasio to join Puerto Rican Day Parade march, backs pardoned FALN militant Oscar López Rivera


Hizzoner celebrates the Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 12, 2016. He’ll join the festivities again this year.

Mayor de Blasio said he will march in the Puerto Rican Day Parade as usual this year, when the event honors Oscar López Rivera — who spent decades in prison for his work with a group that set off deadly bombs in New York City.

López Rivera, a member of the Puerto Rican independence group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN) in the 1970s and early 1980s — was released from house arrest on the island Wednesday after being pardoned by former President Barack Obama. FALN claimed responsibility for more than a hundred bombings — including one at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan.

“It’s a complicated situation for several reasons. The organization he was affiliated with did things I don’t agree with obviously and that were illegal. He has, however, renounced terrorism,” de Blasio said. “He was pardoned by two United States Presidents. I think that speaks volumes. He also was a Vietnam veteran. He is someone who served this country even though he had real political differences over how Puerto Rico was being treated.”

President Bill Clinton offered López Rivera clemency in 1999, with conditions including renouncing terrorism, but López Rivera rejected the offer.

Oscar Lopez Rivera was part of a Puerto Rican independent group that took credit for more than a hundred bombings in the 1970s and 1980s.

De Blasio said he understood why López Rivera has many vocal supporters among Puerto Ricans. Among them is Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who traveled to Puerto Rico for his release Wednesday.

“I don’t agree with the way he did it. But he did serve his time. He was pardoned appropriately,” de Blasio said. “He has renounced violence. So I’m going to do everything I would normally do with the parade.”