NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After weeks of controversy over his refusal to join others in boycotting the Puerto Rican Day Parade, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that he was publicly holding his tongue – while privately urging organizers to renounce a onetime terror leader.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the list of those refusing to march in the parade was growing daily on account of the involvement of Oscar López Rivera – the onetime leader of the paramilitary group the Armed Forces of National Liberation – or FALN.
But de Blasio steadfastly and stubbornly refused to join in – repeatedly saying he would go, he would march, and López Rivera had paid his dues.
“He did serve his time. He was pardoned appropriately,” de Blasio said on May 19.
The mayor, who is running for reelection, was asked repeatedly if he would join Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Goya Foods, the New York Yankees, AT&T, Coca-Cola, and many others in refusing to participate. Each time, he said he would march.
“I’m going to do everything I would normally do with the parade,” de Blasio said on May 19.
But on Monday, de Blasio said he was just being “diplomatic.”
The mayor claimed he had privately voiced concerns to parade organizers about López Rivera – whose sentence for sedition, armed robbery, and conspiracy to transport explosives was commuted after 36 years by President Barack Obama.
The mayor said to get the parade committee to sever ties with López Rivera, he privately threatened not to march.
“I made it clear to them that I was uncomfortable with the situation and I wanted them to resolve it,” de Blasio said, “but if it wasn’t resolved, I wasn’t going to be comfortable being a part of it.”
The mayor said he didn’t make his efforts public because “sometimes to get something done, you hold your tongue in public.”
Joe Connor – whose father, Frank, was killed with the FALN detonated a bomb at Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan in January 1975 – is not buying the mayor’s explanation.
“It’s pure revisionist history. He was for López walking,” Connor said. “He never came out against López until now because of people like me, and the common sense of the people of New York, who’ve basically told him if you walk hand in hand with a terrorist, you’re going to pay for it at the polls.”
López Rivera is still marching in the parade, but not at the head with the National Freedom Hero award he was to be given.
It is still not clear whom Mayor de Blasio will be marching with in the parade, and whether he will be anywhere near López Rivera in the line of the march.
The parade will be held this coming Sunday.