Oscar Lopez Rivera gets place of honor at NYC Puerto Rican Day Parade.
A Puerto Rican nationalist who served 35 years in prison for his ties to the FALN terror group stepped off at the head of New York City’s Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday, with a top city official by his side.
Oscar Lopez Rivera drew cheers and boos as he stood on the first float of the parade, which moved up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
Organizers had offered to honor Lopez Rivera with the parade’s “National Freedom Award,” but he declined after a backlash that saw sponsors, including AT&T and Jet Blue, and politicians like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pull out.
“I feel good about being here,” Lopez Rivera told the New York Post as he pounded his chest and chanting “Que viva Puerto Rico!” “This parade is for the Puerto Rican public.”
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito joined Lopez Rivera’s float approximately halfway along the parade route.
“I’m here to celebrate,” she said. “This is a day of unity and celebration.”
As for those who chose to stay away because of Lopez Rivera, she said “that’s their decision.”
Lopez Rivera’s supporters followed, carrying signs that read, “Oscar Lopez Rivera is our Mandela.”
Nanchelle Rivera — no relation — was not among them. From the sidelines, the 28-year-old spectator said she refuses to back the man who was convicted for his involvement with the FALN, responsible for bombings that killed and maimed dozens in the 1970s and 1980s.
“He did not represent me,” said the young woman visiting from Orlando told the Associated Press.
She said she would not have come to watch the celebration if she’d known Lopez Rivera would be there.
A supporter in the parade heard her booing, and shouted back, “This is your history!”
“This really pisses me off,” spectator Mark Rivera told the Post. “This is a day for honoring the republic of Puerto Rico, not honoring a terrorist. This man has no place in our parade. He makes me ashamed to be a Puerto Rican.”
Most of the tens of thousands of revelers turned out simply to celebrate Puerto Rico, happily salsa dancing and waving Puerto Rican flags. Some wrapped their bodies in it, others adorned their heads with the red, white and blue colors.
“We don’t care that he is here,” said Rosa Rosario, a 68-year-old New Yorker.
“I don’t support a political movement,” she said, explaining that she was at the parade to support “my hometown, Hormigueros” — a municipality in the western region of the island.
Read the rest at: HonoredTerrorist