Chicago plans to honor unrepentant terrorist leader Oscar Lopez Rivera by naming three blocks of a city street for him, Oscar Lopez Rivera Way.
The final vote by Chicago’s 50 aldermen on this horrific proposal by Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) is scheduled for Wednesday of this week.
In this age of constant terror threat, the words “disgrace” and “outrage” do not come close to describing the insanity, the insult and the pain that honoring the leader of Puerto Rican Terrorist group, Armed Forces for National Liberation National Liberation, brings to our family, the families of all FALN victims and all Americans.
You see, Lopez’s FALN murdered our 33-year-old father, Frank Connor, and four other innocent people during their reign of terror from 1974 to 1983.
It’s not bad enough that Lopez refused President Bill Clinton’s 1999 clemency grant, saying he had a problem with atonement and choosing to stay in prison rather than renounce violence as a condition of freedom.
It’s not bad enough that a group of FALN victims and family members went to Lopez’s 2011 federal parole hearing in Terre Haute, Indiana, looking for contrition but receiving only lies and excuses from the sworn terrorist.
It’s not bad enough that President Barack Obama offered an unconditional and unprecedented second presidential clemency to Lopez Rivera, releasing the terrorist as Obama left office just last month.
But now our second city, a city under daily siege by violence, mayhem, fear and murder, may vote to honor a terrorist who trafficked in violence, mayhem, fear and murder.
From 1974 to 1983, the FALN waged a merciless, bloody war against the United States, attacking civilians mainly in Chicago and New York. On Jan. 24, 1975, the FALN’s most deadly attack, the infamous lunchtime bombing of Fraunces Tavern, a New York City landmark, killed my father, Frank Connor, 33, and three other innocent men. It was supposed to be the day we would celebrate my brother’s 11th birthday, and my 9th.
An FALN communique that day took credit for the attack, which it called a blow against “reactionary corporate executives.” In fact, my dad was born to immigrants and raised in New York’s working-class Washington Heights neighborhood, very near where several of the FALN members were from. The FALN continued its reign of terror until the early 1980s, when 11 of its members were arrested, tried and convicted of (among other serious felonies) weapons possession and seditious conspiracy. The entirely appropriate prison terms were to run from 55 to 70 years.
During their trials, these defendants rejected U.S. jurisdiction, claiming to be prisoners of war. Several FALN members threatened to kill or maim the judge, Thomas McMillan.
In 1981, Lopez was convicted and sentenced to 55 years for seditious conspiracy, interference with interstate commerce by threats or violence, carrying firearms during the commission of those two crimes, and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles. There was testimony by a cooperating FALN insider that Lopez was personally involved in bombing and incendiary attacks, trained members in bomb-making techniques and had been a prime recruiter for the FALN. In 1987, Lopez was convicted and sentenced to an additional 15 years for participating in a conspiracy to escape, which included the transportation of explosives with the intent to kill and injure people.
No one was ever charged with the murders at Fraunces Tavern, but Lopez repeatedly has been convicted of participating in conspiracies to place bombs that could have killed and did injure innocent citizens. Under conspiracy law, like Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden, Lopez is responsible and guilty whether or not he committed the acts himself.
Lopez and his supporters claim he is “freedom fighter” for Puerto Rican independence against American colonialism of the island. But aside from being a terrorist, what has he done to support “freedom” in Puerto Rico?
Lopez has never represented the people of Puerto Rico. Never more than 5 percent of Puerto Ricans have ever voted for independence from America and in 2012 fully 60 percent voted for statehood. Further, Lopez and the FALN’s vision of “freedom” never involved freedom at all for Puerto Ricans but subjugation in a Cuban-like Marxist state with Lopez and the FALN no doubt in the role of the Castros, as they wanted a “free and socialist” Puerto Rico.
Lopez has never expressed regret nor sought forgiveness; not even at his parole hearing where his very freedom depended on it. Not once in his 2013 autobiography did he express regret for his actions nor cooperate with authorities to bring some kind of closure to unsolved FALN crimes like Fraunces.
This is the felon whom Chicago plans to honor. I ask Ald. Maldonado, in the name of decency, to withdraw the honorary street designation for terror leader Oscar Lopez Rivera and cancel the vote. Should Maldonado refuse, I ask Mayor Emanuel and the other aldermen to reject and vote against the naming of Oscar Lopez Rivera Way.
I implore Chicago leaders to ask yourselves: Why? Oscar Rivera Lopez Way? Why?
Joe Connor works in the financial services industry in the New York City area. His second book, Forgotten Terror, written with Jeff Ingber, is planned for a 2018 publication.
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