Controversial onetime convicted terror leader Oscar Lopez Rivera may have declined the Puerto Rican Day Parade’s “National Freedom Award,” but he was still at the head of the event Sunday with the City Council speaker right by his side.
Lopez Rivera — who did 35 years behind bars for his ties to the Puerto Rican terror group FALN was on the first float out of the gate at the Manhattan parade, and speaker pal Melissa Mark-Viverito hopped on to join him at 62nd Street.
Organizers offered to honor Lopez Rivera in the parade, but he declined after a massive backlash that saw sponsors and pols pull out over his inclusion.
“I feel good about being here,” Lopez Rivera said in between bouts of pounding his chest and chanting “Que viva Puerto Rico!” “This parade is for the Puerto Rican public.”
But his very presence was an insult to Puerto Ricans, one reveler said.
Oscar Lopez Rivera has arrived to Puerto Rican Day Parade. A lot of jostling as he got off van. @nytimes pic.twitter.com/sKVwV6FfRa
— Luis Ferré Sadurní (@luisferre) June 11, 2017
“This really pisses me off,” fumed Mark Rivera, 38, of The Bronx. “This is a day for honoring the republic of Puerto Rico, not honoring a terrorist.
This man has no place in our parade. He makes me ashamed to be a Puerto Rican.”
Mark-Viverito cut the ribbon at the beginning of the parade without him or Mayor de Blasio, but she caught up to Lopez Rivera as his float reached Central Park.
De Blasio, who previously said he would not march if Lopez Rivera was honored, nonetheless marched but kept a roughly 10-block buffer between himself and the divisive Lopez Rivera.