Oscar Lopez-Rivera was released from house arrest in Puerto Rico today, and next month he will be returning to New York City, where his terrorist group bombed innocent people, to be honored in the Puerto Rican Day parade. His sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in the final days of his administration, and now the Puerto Rican “nationalist” is a free man.
Lopez-Rivera was convicted for weapons trafficking and conspiracy to overthrow the government. He helped the socialist revolutionary group FALN, of which he was a member, obtain weapons and carry out attacks such as the bombing of Fraunces Tavern in downtown Manhattan, which killed four.
Joe Connor, whose father was killed in the Fraunces Tavern bombing when Joe was nine, told NPR, “I would love to ask people who support his release and say, If not a terrorist, what has Oscar Lopez done to help the Puerto Rican people?” This exposes the contradiction at the heart of the usual case for freeing Lopez-Rivera: that he is a hero for fighting for the revolution but also a political prisoner who did nothing wrong.
With fans who cannot grasp even the most elementary logic, Lopez-Rivera is sure to see enthusiastic crowds and painstakingly “evenhanded” media attention. “Our parade has a pioneering history and legacy of championing the people’s voice and providing a platform that prompts healthy discussions and leads to positive change,” New York parade organizers said in a statement.
In addition to his appearance in the city where FALN racked up its greatest body count, Lopez-Rivera has been booked to appear in San Francisco and Chicago, where he will have a streetway named in his honor. But to those affected by FALN’s terrorism, Lopez-Rivera will still be a killer whom Obama gave a get-out-of-jail-free card.