The Latest: Lopez Rivera joins Puerto Rican Day Parade float
Posted June 11
NEW YORK — The Latest on the Puerto Rican Day Parade (all times local):
A Puerto Rican nationalist who spent decades in prison for his involvement with a group responsible for bombings in the 1970s and '80s has been booed and cheered at New York's Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Oscar Lopez Rivera was stripped of his status as an honoree for the parade on Sunday, the day Puerto Ricans voted for statehood in a non-binding referendum. Parade organizers say the 74-year-old was allowed to ride on a lead float because of his age and the 92-degree heat.
Lopez Rivera waved to the crowd and pounded his chest. He shouted, "This is for the Puerto Rican people!"
Organizers initially granted him the National Freedom Hero title. But the title was dropped. Lopez Rivera said last week he would join the parade as a regular citizen, partly because the focus was too much on him and not enough on Puerto Rico's plight.
Oscar Lopez Rivera is toward the front of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, proudly standing on a float as the march stepped off.
The former member of a militant, nationalist Puerto Rican group was greeted Sunday with some boos and cheers but most spectators just watched the festivities.
Just before New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito started walking up Fifth Avenue on Sunday, she announced she was there "to celebrate."
She and thousands of others joined the parade that had drawn controversy for granting the title of "National Freedom Hero" to Lopez Rivera. The title later was dropped.
Lopez Rivera served 35 years in prison for his role in the nationalist group that was linked to violence in the 1970s and '80s.
Floats adorned with Puerto Rican flags are lined up on streets off Fifth Avenue, ready to step off for New York's annual Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Some spectators are wearing the red, white and blue Puerto Rican flag on their bodies and atop their heads.
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was among the first dignitaries to arrive Sunday.
Some corporate sponsors dropped out of the celebrations this year after parade organizers decided to grant the title of National Freedom Hero to Oscar Lopez Rivera. The title later was dropped.
Rivera is a former member of a militant Puerto Rican nationalist group linked to deadly bombings. He served 35 years in prison for his involvement with the group in 1970s and '80s.
Tens of thousands of revelers are expected to pack Fifth Avenue for New York's annual Puerto Rican Day parade.
That's despite a controversy over honoring a man who spent 35 years in prison for his involvement with a group responsible for bombings that killed or maimed dozens in the 1970s and 1980s.
Corporate sponsors dropped out of Sunday's parade over organizers' decision to grant the title of National Freedom Hero to Oscar Lopez Rivera. The title later was dropped.
Lopez Rivera is a former member of the militant Puerto Rican nationalist group known as Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN.
Some police and fire department groups won't attend, nor will Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Protesters on both sides of the Lopez Rivera controversy have promised to turn out.