The Parade Polemic | Manhattan Times

Story and photos by Gregg McQueen

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, here marching in 2015, has long supported Oscar López Rivera.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, here marching in 2015, has long supported Oscar López Rivera.

Some are opting out; others are doubling down.

As sponsors and participants continue to pull out of this year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, dozens of supporters staged a rally in Manhattan to support the parade’s controversial decision to honor Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar López Rivera.

“Agree or disagree with his politics, Oscar López Rivera is a symbol of the fight for justice,” stated City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the May 22 rally, held at the Manhattan headquarters of union 32BJ SEIU.

López Rivera was released from federal prison on May 17 after serving 36 years for treason. In January, former President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of López Rivera, who was sentenced to 70 years for conspiracy due to his involvement with Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), a paramilitary organization that claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

In early May, parade organizers had announced that López Rivera would be given special recognition as a “National Freedom Hero” at the June 11 event, a move that caused some participants to part ways with the parade.

New York has the largest Puerto Rican community outside the island.

Goya Foods, the New York Yankees, AT&T, Coca-Cola and JetBlue Airways are among the sponsors that have pulled out of the parade. Police Commissioner James O’Neill and mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis have announced they will not march, while members of the Hispanic Societies of the FDNY, NYPD and Lieutenants Benevolent Association have said they will also skip the event.

Read more: The Parade Polemic | Manhattan Times

Related: Comic book spotlights Puerto Rican superheroine | Manhattan Times

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