In her remarks on Friday, Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis stunned with her implication that former terror leader, Oscar Lopez Rivera, has “more integrity” than Mayor Bill de Blasio or Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. This was the Staten Island assemblywoman’s way of applauding the FALN founder for declining the “National Freedom Hero” award, at the upcoming June 11 Puerto Rican Day Parade.
“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,” said Malliotakis, in a joint statement with Joseph Connor. “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.”
Lopez Rivera’s Puerto Rican nationalist group, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN) claimed responsibility for over 100 bombings across America in the 1970s and 1980s. Among them, was the 1975 bombing that killed four people at lower Manhattan’s landmark Fraunces Tavern, among them Connor’s father. In 1981, Lopez Rivera was convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government, theft, and transportation of explosives. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison, but served only 35 years, before President Barack Obama granted him a pardon upon leaving the White House.
On Thursday, Rivera announced that he would decline the honor but still march at the parade, in the face of a widespread boycott, as reported by the NY Post. Many top elected officials had pulled out of the procession, bulking at Rivera’s inclusion, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Charles Schumer. Also most major sponsors stepped out in protest, including Goya Foods, JetBlue, AT&T, Corona, the Yankees and media sources Univision and Telemundo. Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James are all attending, although the mayor said he would march separately from Lopez Rivera.
By Hadassa Kalatizadeh