City of Chicago names street for North Shore terrorist
Oscar Lopez Rivera completed his house arrest in Puerto Rico in time to attend a ceremony at Chicago’s Humboldt Park, where an honorary street sign in his name was unveiled on Thursday.
Lopez Rivera was sentenced to 55 years in prison following his 1981 conviction on charges including seditious conspiracy, use of force to commit robbery, interstate transportation of firearms and conspiracy to transport explosives with the intent to destroy government property. An additional 15 years was added to his sentence after he allegedly attempted to escape from a federal prison.
Lopez Rivera’s charges and conviction stemmed from his involvement in the Puerto Rican group Fuerza Armadas de Liberacion National (FALN), or Armed Forces of National Liberation.
According to federal documents and court records, Lopez Rivera was a founding member and leader of FALN and a bomb-maker instrumental in the group’s more than 100 bombings.
President Barack Obama commuted Lopez Rivera’s sentence in January, and in February, he was transferred from a federal U.S. prison to Puerto Rico, where he served the final three months of his sentence under house arrest before being released on Wednesday.
At Humboldt Park, Lopez Rivera was cheered by spectators as he participated in the celebration surrounding the unveiling of the street sign. Attending the celebration were U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward) and Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward), all of whom were instrumental in renaming the street in Lopez Rivera’s honor.
The day’s activities included a march led by a group of motorcycles and a float carrying Puerto Rican musicians.
Local law enforcement was on the scene, but no arrests were made, and only two protesters were noted at the event, one carrying a sign calling Lopez-Rivera a “terrorist” and another who decried Maldonado’s involvement in the event, calling him a “crook” and accusing him of “selling us out.”
Despite the overall positive atmosphere, several individuals with connections to FALN's bombings have spoken out against renaming a street in honor one of someone whose activities included the 1975 bombing at Fraunces Tavern in New York that killed four and injured dozens.
Joseph Connor was 9 when his father, Frank Connor, was killed in a 1975 explosion for which FALN claimed responsibility.
“His group murdered my father," Connor told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He is a sworn terrorist... . He was convicted of bombings in Chicago that did injure people. He tried to escape from prison with machine guns and plastic explosives where he was gonna kill the guards... . And Chicago is going to put up a sign in his honor? This is worse than a disgrace. It is sinister. It’s a direct insult to my father’s life. The commutation was politically driven. But to honor in the second-largest city in the United States the leader of the terrorist group that murdered my father? It is so over the top, shameful and disgusting and vile, reprehensible."
The 50-member Chicago City Council approved the renaming of the sign, with nine aldermen voting against the proposal.
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