What to Know
- Oscar Lopez was sentenced to 55 years in prison in 1981 after he was found guilty of seditious conspiracy
- Lopez was considered a top leader of FALN, an ultranationalist Puerto Rican group that claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings
- President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January
NBC 4 New York and Telemundo 47 will not participate in the 2017 Puerto Rican Day Parade, amid controversy over organizers' decision to honor a Puerto Rican nationalist linked to deadly bombings in New York and other cities.
WNBC and WNJU announced their decision Friday.
"Both WNBC and WNJU hold a long-standing commitment to the Tri-State’s Puerto Rican community, a fact exemplified through our continued support for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade’s scholarship program. Our stations have decided to limit this year’s support to the Parade’s scholarship program, and have respectfully informed the committee that we will not be participating in the 2017 Parade," they said in a statement.
The stations join a host of other partners who have pulled back from the Fifth Avenue event in the wake of the parade committee's decision to recognize Oscar Lopez Rivera, who was freed from prison this month after spending more than 35 years in federal custody.
The Yankees, JetBlue, FDNY, AT&T, Goya, the Daily News and Univision have all cut ties in recent days. NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill has said he will not march in the parade, though Mayor de Blasio said as recently as Tuesday that he still planned to participate.
Rivera was connected to a series of bombings across the country in the 1970s and 1980s, including an attack at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan that killed four people. Rivera was never charged in the tavern bombing -- no one was -- but he was convicted of sedition and transporting firearms and explosives.
President Obama commuted Rivera's sentence in January, shortly before he left office.
Parade organizers announced a few weeks back that Rivera would march at the forefront of the June 11 spectacle. They also said Rivera would be named a National Freedom Hero, an honor never before bestowed by the parade.
Earlier this month, parade organizers pledged the event would "create awareness on issues, even if controversial, that affect us as a Puerto Rican community."