Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, joined by the son of a victim of the 1975 Fraunces Tavern bombing and the federal prosecutor who waged the first successful prosecution of the FALN, today renewed her call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to join the ever-growing number of corporate sponsors, elected officials, law enforcement and average New Yorkers who are boycotting this year's Puerto Rican Day Parade.
The Tuesday morning news conference was held in front of Fraunces Tavern at the corner of Broad and Pearl Streets in lower Manhattan, where on January 24th, 1975, an FALN bomb exploded; killing 4 and injuring scores of other innocent victims. Malliotakis, called the inclusion of convicted FALN terrorist Oscar Lopez Rodriguez in this year's parade, "a slap-in the face to the victims of terrorism, law enforcement and all patriotic New Yorkers."
The Staten Island Assemblywoman, who is running for the Republican nomination for Mayor, was joined at the news conference by Joseph Connor, the son of 33 year-old banking executive Frank Connor who was killed instantly in the Fraunces Tavern bombing and Thomas Engel, Esq. who, in the 1970s brought the first successful prosecution of the FALN as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said, "Today, I renew my call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to join with corporate sponsors, elected officials, NYPD Commissioner O'Neill and others who refuse to march or attend in this year's Puerto Rican Day Parade due to the inclusion of convicted FALN leader Oscar Lopez Rivera as the parade's honoree. Make no mistake; the fact that he is being honored by the parade committee is a slap in the face to the victims of terrorism, law enforcement and all patriotic New Yorkers.
"Standing beside me are 2 individuals who will never forget the actions of the FALN. Joe Connors was 9 years-old when Frank, his 33 year old father, was killed instantly by the bomb that exploded here during lunchtime 42 years ago. Tom Engel was a young federal prosecutor in the U.S Attorney's office at the time and would lead the first successful prosecution of an FALN member. Both of these men witnessed the savagery of the FALN and the campaign of terror that they waged on America.
"How far astray has New York City government gone when our Council Speaker and Mayor believe it's appropriate to march alongside a mastermind of these attacks on our city. I call on Bill de Blasio to display leadership and put an end to a divisive situation that threatens to ruin the annual celebration of Puerto Rico, its heritage and its people."
Joseph Connor said, "The cowardly bombing that took place here 42 years ago forever took our father, changed my life and devastated those of so many others. My father never came home that night, never hugged my mother again or kissed me and my brother goodnight.
"I will never forget what happened and in the years since, I have tried to honor my father's memory by relentlessly speaking out against the FALN, terrorists and the politicians who have used terrorism; our father's life and death, for their political gain.
"It's outrageous that President Clinton and then President Obama gave clemency to Oscar Lopez Rivera and released him from prison. But, what is much more inexcusable is that the parade committee chose to honor him and that Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito support that decision and plan to march alongside a terrorist.
"I hope my standing here today serves as a stark reminder that the actions of Oscar Lopez Rivera's in the 1970's are no less criminal or heinous than those who will be brought to justice for last week's terror attacks in Manchester, UK.."
Thomas Engel said, "From 1973-1978 I served as an assistant U.S Attorney in the Southern District of New York. During that time, I was the prosecutor on what would become the first successful prosecution of an FALN member for the string of bombings that had wreaked havoc on New York City and the nation.
"FALN bombs killed, maimed, injured and traumatized countless Americans. Those who portray the FALN as romanticized freedom fighters are either extremely naïve or are simply purveyors of cynical FALN propaganda that simply ignores the truth.
"Just like Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden, Oscar Lopez Rivera is a terrorist. He has blood on his hands. I remember, all too well, the carnage and destruction that took place here 42 years ago including the murder of Joe Connor's father.
"Between 1974 and 1983 the FALN was responsible for over a 100 bombings; if that isn't the definition of a terror organization, I don't know what is. New Yorkers need to realize this about the FALN and those who led it, like Oscar Lopez Rivera."
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