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Puerto Rican Nationalist Getting Street Sign In Humboldt, Angering Some

By  Mina Bloom and Heather Cherone | February 22, 2017 1:28pm | Updated on February 24, 2017 10:34am

 U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Oscar Lopez Rivera
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Oscar Lopez Rivera
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Rep. Luis Gutierrez

HUMBOLDT PARK — Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican nationalist whose prison sentence for trying to overthrow the U.S. government was commuted last month, is getting a street sign named after him in Humboldt Park, one of the city's largest Puerto Rican enclaves.

On Wednesday, the City Council approved the erection of the sign "Oscar Lopez Rivera Way" in the 1200 - 1500 blocks of North Luis Munoz Marin Drive despite nine "no" votes.

The sign was first proposed by Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th), who also pushed for an honorary street sign for Cubs star Javy Baez, which will be erected on the west side of West Luis Munoz Marin Drive near a replica of Wrigley Field known as Little Cubs Field.

In 1981, Rivera was convicted of federal charges, including seditious conspiracy to overthrow the United States government when he was a member of Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, or FALN, a group that claimed responsibility for many bombings in major U.S. cities from 1974 to 1983. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison in 1981.

Rivera, who has roots in Humboldt Park, was one of 64 people who was granted a shortened sentence, or in some cases, a pardon, in January by then-President Barack Obama.

Rivera was scheduled to be released from prison in Terre Haute, Ind., on May 17, but in early February he unexpectedly was returned to Puerto Rico to finish his sentence.

Depending on whom you ask, Rivera was either a political hero or a criminal. While many activists have been calling for his release, others have warned against a pardon, saying he doesn't deserve one.

The son of a FALN bombing victim, Joseph Connor, called the street sign a "disgrace," according to the Sun-Times.

"It is sinister. It’s a direct insult to my father’s life," Connor told the Sun-Times. "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.”