New York Daily News

 May 18, 2017, 4:56 PM

  

 

Hispanic cops to boycott Puerto Rican Day Parade over honors for deadly NYC bomber

BY LEONARD GREENE

Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar López Rivera gestures to supporters in San Juan as he is released from home confinement after 36 years in federal custody.  (CARLOS GIUSTI/AP)

A group representing Hispanic police officers will boycott next month's Puerto Rican Day Parade to protest a decision by organizers to honor a controversial nationalist jailed for his connection to a string of deadly bombings.

While Oscar López Rivera is seen as a hero in some circles, he is still regarded as a terrorist by others, including many cops who hold him and his Puerto Rican independence group responsible for the 1975 bombing at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan that killed four people.

"After careful consideration and discussions with several unions, the NYPD Hispanic Society executive board, executive advisory board, trustees and members have made a conscientious decision to not participate in the 2017 National Puerto Rican Day Parade," the police group said in a statement.

"We support the NYPD members who were seriously injured and the families of the innocent people who lost their lives during these attacks throughout the United States and in our city. We took an oath to protect and serve the people. Unfortunately, this year's views and values of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade committee do not conform with the society's mission of promoting peace and unity."

López Rivera, 74, was a prominent member of the Puerto Rican independence group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN) in the 1970s and early 1980s — when the group claimed responsibility for more than a hundred bombings at government buildings, banks, restaurants and stores in New York, Chicago and other cities.

López Rivera was freed from house arrest Wednesday after former President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January. He spent 36 years in federal custody.

Lopez, a Vietnam War veteran who moved from Puerto Rico to Chicago as a child, was not convicted of any role in the bombings that killed six people and injured scores, but those who lost loved ones hold him responsible.

He is expected to travel to Manhattan in the coming weeks to be honored at the 60th annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 11.

Organizers have generated controversy by designating López Rivera the parade's first "National Freedom Hero".

Organizers said his participation is "not an endorsement of the history that led to his arrest," but rather "a recognition of a man and a nation's struggle for sovereignty,"

Not everyone agrees.

Performers march in 2015’s Puerto Rican Day Parade.  (JAMES KEIVOM/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

"The annual Puerto Rican Day Parade is a magnificent celebration of a proud heritage shared by New Yorkers and police officers alike," said Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch.

"Honoring a remorseless terrorist who refuses to condemn acts of violence effectively steals the parade from the good and honorable people who are proud of their Puerto Rican heritage. We must remember the terrible injuries sustained by police officers Angel Poggi and Rocco Pascarello and detectives Richard Pastorella and Anthony Seft. It is simply wrong to honor a man who is responsible for so much death, destruction and injury."