Malliotakis to march in Sunset Park Puerto Rican Day Parade
Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis, who made headlines with her decision to boycott the 60th National Puerto Rican Day Parade because sponsors are honoring political extremist Oscar Lopez Rivera, said she has no such qualms about joining marchers for a Sunset Park version of the parade.
Her campaign announced that Malliotakis plans to march in the Third Annual Sunset Park Puerto Rican Parade on June 11. The Sunset Park event will take place the same day as the parade in Manhattan.
Oscar Lopez Rivera spent more than 35 years in prison for his role as leader of FALN, an organization that carried out hundreds of bombings in the name of winning independence for Puerto Rico. In one of those incidents, a bombing at historic Fraunces Tavern in the Financial District in 1975, four people were killed.
Lopez Rivera was pardoned by former President Barack Obama in the last days of Obama’s term in office.
The decision by the parade committee to honor Lopez Rivera has divided the city with Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito choosing to march while several officials, including Police Commissioner James O’Neill, saying they will boycott the event.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the NYPD Hispanic Society have also pulled out, citing the Lopez Rivera tribute as the reason.
Latino food company Goya Food, JetBlue and the New York Yankees have all withdrawn from participating in the parade, although leaders of Goya stated that it was a business decision rather than a political one.
But in a pre-parade development, Lopez Rivera has backed out of the title of honoree of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, saying that he will join in on the festivities, but not as an honoree.
In response to the announcement by Lopez Rivera, Malliotakis and Joe Connor, the son of Fraunces Tavern bombing victim Frank Connor, released a statement.
“While we are pleased that Oscar Lopez Rivera will not be recognized at the Puerto Rican Day Parade as a freedom-fighting hero, the fact remains that this terrorist has shockingly shown more integrity in doing what is right for the parade than our own city leadership who refuse to denounce him and instead waited until he declined the award. We and all New Yorkers should never forget the terror FALN inflicted on our city and the lack of leadership exhibited by Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Viverito,” the statement read.
Malliotakis, a New York State Assembly member representing a district that includes parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island, said she is still outraged over the selection of Lopez Rivera as the subject of a tribute by parade organizers.
“There are many Puerto Rican entertainers, athletes and business leaders who have contributed greatly to our city and nation and would have been a more appropriate and less divisive choice,” Malliotakis said in a statement.
Mayor de Blasio has stated that he will march, albeit not alongside Lopez Rivera.
“All things considered, I understand why so many Puerto Ricans — that’s almost 700,000 people in this city — respect that he fought for Puerto Rico in their eyes. I don’t agree with the way he did it. But he did serve his time. He was pardoned appropriately. So I’m going to do everything I would normally do with the parade,” DNAinfo quoted the mayor as saying.
The choice of Lopez Rivera was also strongly defended by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Puerto Rican.
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