Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis today demanded that Mayor Bill de Blasio skip the Puerto Rican Day Parade due to the parade honoring Oscar Lopez Rivera. Malliotakis spoke at a press conference in front of Fraunces Tavern, the lower Manhattan target of a fatal bombing by a group led by Lopez Rivera. She was joined by Joseph Connor, whose father Frank was killed in the bombing, and Thomas Engel, who prosecuted members of the FALN as an assistant U.S. Attorney.
Rivera was a co-founder of the FALN, a self-styled group of Puerto Rican nationalists who carried out scores of bombings and other violent attacks from the in the 1970s, including a 1975 bombing of Fraunces Tavern that killed four people and a bombing of NYPD’s headquarters. Rivera was convicted of seditious conspiracy and firearms and explosives charges, but not of taking part in any attack, and served 35 years in federal prison before being granted clemency this year. The National Puerto Rican Day Parade, held on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue has designated Lopez Rivera as its “National Freedom Hero.”
Malliotakis has been a vocal critic of the Parade Committee’s decision, calling for elected officials and sponsors to boycott the parade this year. Many sponsors have withdrawn their support and some elected officials, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, have said that they will not march. Malliotakis is not marching, although she’s never marched previously. Mayor de Blasio has said that he plans to march.
At a press conference last week de Blasio offered only a brief justification for his decision to march, characterizing the parade as “a very, very important part of the life of our city” and saying that he “will be there to honor the Puerto Rican people.” It’s a decidedly different approach from his boycott of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, refusing to attend due to that parade committee’s refusal to allow LGBT groups to join despite that parade also being “an important part of the life of our city.”
Here are separate segments from Malliotakis’ press conference with the opening statements of Malliotakis, Connor and Engel and the Q&A: