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Brooklyn DA Gonzalez Indecisive Over Puerto Rican Day Parade Controversy

By Trevor Kapp | May 25, 2017 2:15pm
 Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez speaks at a press conference at his office on Jan. 12, 2017.
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez speaks at a press conference at his office on Jan. 12, 2017.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

BROOKLYN — Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez — a member of the Puerto Rican Bar Association — is refusing to take a stand on the Puerto Rican Day Parade's controversial honoree, Oscar Lopez Rivera, the former leader of an extremist group believed to be responsible for the deadly bombing of Fraunces Tavern.

Gonzalez — who became the borough's district attorney following the death of Ken Thompson last year — will not attend the parade, campaign spokeswoman Lupe Todd-Medina said, declining to comment on whether Gonzalez supports the choice of organizers to honor the FALN radical separatist.

"DA Gonzalez is running a competitive campaign seeking the ‎support of people throughout Brooklyn, which is where you will find him on June 11," Todd-Medina said.

City parades, with their large crowds and festive atmosphere, have traditionally been big draws to political hopefuls looking for votes.

Lopez Rivera, now 74, served 36 years in prison for participating in a plot to overthrow the U.S. government and transport explosives.

The revolutionary was a leader in the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional, or FALN, which claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings across the country in the 1970s and 1980s, including the 1975 Fraunces Tavern attack that killed four people.

Lopez Rivera was pardoned by President Barack Obama last year.

The New York Yankees, JetBlue, Coca-Cola, Corona and AT&T have already announced they will boycott the parade, as have the NYPD's and FDNY's Hispanic Societies.

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill has said he will not march because of Lopez Rivera’s presence.

“I cannot support a man who is a co-founder of an organization that engaged in over 120 bombings," the commissioner said earlier this week.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he still plans to march.

Parade organizers wrote on their website earlier this week that though they were "saddened and disappointed” by the boycotts, they respected the choice not to participate.