Photo Courtesy of Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis’ Office
The Square Deal Committee rally ripped the mayor and City Council Speaker for supporting the honoring of Oscar Lopez Rivera.
By Michael V. Cusenza
A Queens civic organization headed by a GOP City Council candidate led a rally on Tuesday afternoon at Borough Hall that repeatedly blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for supporting the honoring of the militant leader of a terrorist group at the upcoming Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Oscar Lopez Rivera is a Puerto Rican activist and the leader of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional Puertorriquena, a clandestine paramilitary organization responsible for more than 120 attacks on United States targets, including the bombing of downtown Manhattan’s Fraunces Tavern in 1975 that killed four people.
Lopez Rivera was arrested on May 29, 1981 and tried by the U.S. government for seditious conspiracy, use of force to commit robbery, interstate transportation of firearms, and conspiracy to transport explosives with intent to destroy government property. In August 1981, López Rivera was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in federal prison. On Jan 17, 2017, President Barack Obama commuted his sentenced, and Lopez Rivera was released from prison last month. He is set to be honored on June 11 by the parade board at the 60th annual celebration of Puerto Rican pride.
Joe Concannon, a retired City Police Department captain who is running for the District 23 Council seat and organized Tuesday’s demonstration through his Square Deal Committee, ripped City leadership for “supporting terrorism” by rewarding Lopez Rivera.
“Never, never in a million years did we think that the Mayor of the City of New York would reach this far into the bowels of New York City to pull out of the sewer an international terrorist and promote him to the position of hero,” Concannon said.
Many of the parade’s sponsors have pulled out of the event. And myriad City officials, including Police Commissioner Jim O’Neill, have vowed to skip the celebration due to Lopez Rivera’s presence.
Last week, Mark-Viverito and 35 elected officials wrote a letter to the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Board commending them for their resolve and support of Lopez Rivera.
“We commend you for recognizing that Oscar Lopez Rivera represents the voice, tenacity and resolve of Puerto Rico and its people,” the letter reads. “As countless families continue to struggle in Puerto Rico’s current fiscal crisis, Oscar is a reminder of the hope that has always anchored the Island — and that’s why we fully stand behind your efforts to honor him during this year’s 60th National Puerto Rican Day parade. Oscar’s presence will lift people’s spirits and bring attention to the challenges that must be immediately addressed on the Island.”