Board of National Puerto Rican Day Parade Responds to Oscar López Rivera Controversy

UPDATE, May 23, 2017: On Tuesday afternoon, the parade’s board of directors issued an additional statement.

In response to announcements that some groups will not participate in the June 11, 2017 National Puerto Rican Day Parade because Oscar López Rivera will be honored, the parade’s board of directors issued the following statement on Monday morning:

The NYPD Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association’s (PBA) issued a statement deciding not to participate in the largest celebration of Puerto Rican diversity in its 60th Anniversary because we are honoring Oscar López Rivera. This statement was confusing and incomprehensible, since they have not joined the Parade as a contingent ever. NYPD has and we urge them to do so this year.

Over the years, several New York City parades have honored leaders who elicit mixed reaction. We all remember the St. Patrick’s Day Parade of 1983, when IRA leader, Michael Flannery of Queens, was chosen as Grand Marshal of the event. Although public opinion was divided, New York went ahead and celebrated Irish heritage. We all worked through the LGBT controversy of 1990, and the differences that arose with the Fire Department of New York in 2007. During these crucial times, the Big Apple’s Irish American community, organized advocacy groups, public figures, and parade organizers, addressed their differences. In the end, unity prevailed and a great celebration of culture and pride took place each time.

This upcoming June 11, on New York’s iconic Fifth Avenue, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade will display a celebration full of cultural diversity and pride. The Parade will continue to serve as educational platform, as it works alongside the community in a productive and positive manner. It will celebrate 100 outstanding young people who will receive the Parade’s scholarships. And yes, it will create awareness on issues, even if controversial, that affect us as a Puerto Rican community like the commutation of Oscar López Rivera’s sentence after 35 years in jail, a journey we began in 2014 with an awareness and solidarity campaign for his cause.

PBA’s decision belongs to them; Goya’s corporate decision belongs to them. We understand that others may not be able to be with us. However, we will continue to represent all voices, with an aim to spark dialogue and find common ground, so that we can help advance our community and build cultural legacy.

The Board of Directors of the
National Puerto Rican Day Parade
Monday, May 22, 2017

Later on Monday, the New York City Council issued a letter in support of the parade:

Dear National Puerto Rican Day Parade Board:

We commend you for recognizing that Oscar López Rivera represents the voice, tenacity and resolve of Puerto Rico and its people. As countless families continue to struggle in Puerto Rico’s current fiscal crisis, Oscar is a reminder of the hope that has always anchored the Island — and that’s why we fully stand behind your efforts to honor him during this year’s 60th National Puerto Rican Day parade. Oscar’s presence will lift people’s spirits and bring attention to the challenges that must be immediately addressed on the Island.

As you know, June 11th is a day to come together as a community, and we are highly disappointed that one of the parade’s main sponsors has backed out of supporting this longstanding tradition, which as its primary purpose, has celebrated the advances and contributions of the Puerto Rican community. We march to honor our history and uplift our people – a message all of the parade’s sponsors should take to heart.

We stand in solidarity with Oscar and express our full support for the Board’s decision to recognize and uplift the legacy of Oscar López Rivera.

Sincerely,

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

NYS Senator Marisol Alcantara

NYS Senator Gustavo Rivera

NYS Assembly Member Marcos Crespo

NYS Assembly Member José Rivera

NYC Council Member Inez Barron

NYC Council Member Fernando Cabrera

NYC Council Member Margaret Chin

NYC Council Member Costa Constantinides

NYC Council Member Laurie Cumbo

NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm

NYC Council Member Rafael Espinal

NYC Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland

NYC Council Member Vanessa Gibson

NYC Council Member Ben Kallos

NYC Council Member Andrew King

NYC Council Member Peter Koo

NYC Council Member Brad Lander

NYC Council Member Stephen Levin

NYC Council Member Mark Levine

NYC Council Member Alan Maisel

NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca

NYC Council Member Rosie Mendez

NYC Council Member I. Daneek Miller

NYC Council Member Annabel Palma

NYC Council Member Bill Perkins

NYC Council Member Antonio Reynoso

NYC Council Member Donovan Richards

NYC Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez

NYC Council Member Helen Rosenthal

NYC Council Member Rafael Salamanca

NYC Council Member Ritchie Torres

NYC Council Member Jumaane Williams

NYC Council Member Corey Johnson

UPDATE: JetBlue pulled out of the 2017 parade on Monday afternoon. Here is what the New York Post reported.

The New York Yankees will also not participate, according to the Post.

AT&T has also pulled out:

As well as Coca-Cola, according to the Associated Press: “The Coca-Cola Co., headquartered in Atlanta, said representatives wouldn’t march, but it would honor the financial support to the scholarship program.”

 

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