NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was more controversy Tuesday, involving the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and a decision to honor an activist linked to a deadly bombing.
A man who lost his father in the attack demanded Mayor Bill de Blasio boycott the celebration.
It was difficult for Joe Connor to walk into Fraunces Tavern — to the doorway of the room where his father Frank was killed with three others by a FALN terror bomb on January 24, 1975.
“His ghost is right here,” Connor told CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer.
That day was Connor’s ninth birthday. He has never lost his sense of loss, or his anger at those who took his father’s life.
For him, the decision by organizers of the Puerto Rican Day Parade to honor Oscar Lopez Rivera — one of FALN’s leaders — is personal. He wants Lopez Rivera disinvited.
“Lopez ruined my dad’s life, he destroyed our lives,” he said.
A long list of sponsors and elected officials have decided to boycott the event.
Connor is furious with Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito for insisting that they will still march with Lopez Rivera.
“How can you be the mayor of a city that has been attacked over and over again, and march with a terrorist,” he said, “Go ahead, stand there with the terrorist, give him a hug, smile, the people of this city will understand who you are.”
President Obama pardoned Lopez after 36 years in jail for sedition, armed robbery, and conspiracy to transport explosives. He’s argued that he never killed anyone, but officials disagree.
“It’s the equivalent of 40 years from now saying it’s okay to honor a member, the leader of Al Qaeda, Timothy McVeigh, or Ramzi Yusef,” Assemblywoman and Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis said.
McVeigh was the Oklahoma City Bomber, Ramzi Yusef was one of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Malliotakes, Conor, and former federal terror prosecutor Thomas Engel called on de Blasio to join the boycott, and to get the parade officials to honor someone not involved in violence.
“Mr. Lopez was a leader of this, and if he was the leader, like Osama Bin Laden, he was even more responsible for the bombings, and the killings and the maimings that occurred,” Engel said.
CBS2’s Kramer asked the mayor’s press secretary and parade organizers if they would dump Lopez River, there was no reply to that, but a parade board member claimed the controversy is tied to Puerto Rico’s upcoming vote on statehood.