New York City Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito’s crusade for a second presidential clemency grant to unrepentant terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera is based on a calculated compilation of lies, omissions and obfuscations including failing to mention that Lopez has already been offered release but refused the Clintons’ 1999 clemency grant.
Lopez’s Puerto Rican terrorist group, Armed Forces for National Liberation, (FALN) waged a merciless, bloody war against The United States from 1974 to 1983 attacking civilians mainly in Chicago and New York.
On January 24, 1975, Lopez’s FALN murdered my 33 year old father Frank Connor while he was eating lunch with clients at Fraunces Tavern. Our family was supposed to celebrate my brother’s 11th birthday, and my 9th birthday that very evening. An FALN communique left near Fraunces 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 working-class Washington Heights, not far from Viverito’s district and some of the terrorists themselves.
The FALN continued its reign of terror through the early 1980s, when 11 of its members were arrested, tried and convicted in Chicago 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 US jurisdiction, claiming to be prisoners of war. Several FALN members threatened to kill or maim the judge, Thomas McMillan.
Viverito’s campaign for Lopez’s release attempts to evoke sympathy for the terrorist’s family, focusing on Lopez’s daughter growing up without her father since his incarceration 33 years ago. I empathize with his daughter and understand all too well the pain of growing up without a father.
Viverito and her terror supporters arrogantly assert that 33 years is long enough for Lopez to remain in prison as they dismiss the fact that 33 years was not near enough time for our young father’s life.
Her disinformation campaign omits that the FALN twice conspired to break Lopez out of prison. Plans involved a direct attack on Leavenworth federal prison, the killing of prison guards and the use of plastic explosives, automatic weapons and a helicopter. The FBI foiled the plot. Lopez was tried and convicted for his involvement, with 15 years added to his original 55-year sentence.
This is the felon whose release Viverito and these other disgraceful council members advocate.
A group of FALN victims, victims’ family members and I faced Lopez at his 2011 parole hearing in the federal prison in Terre Haute Ind. Had Lopez shown any remorse, had he asked for forgiveness, we would have requested the parole board release him but Lopez offered only lies, obfuscations and pathetic denials.
Lopez remains an unrepentant, committed terrorist who, contrary to Viverito’s request for clemency to President Obama, was not fighting for independence for Puerto Rico (less than 5% of Puerto Ricans ever voted for independence) but to subjugate the Puerto Rican people in a Marxist state modeled after Castros’ Cuba.
Lopez’s Marxist model Cuba continues to harbor convicted terrorists. His FALN fugitive comrade, bomb maker William Morales, who almost certainly built the bomb used to murder my father, has been a guest of the Castros since 1988. Viverito petitions President Obama for a second clemency for one FALN terror leader as Obama removes Cuba, a state that literally sponsors terrorists, from the state sponsor of terror list. Incredibly our government does not demand the return of Morales or any of the reported 70 fugitives from Cuba as a condition of normalization. Where is the justice?
Lopez’s own actions prove he belongs in prison. In 1999, Lopez defiantly refused President Clinton’s grant of executive clemency (which was clearly made in order to boost Hillary Clinton’s chances in her 2000 run for a New York seat in the US Senate). Viverito tellingly omits that crucial point. Clintons’ offer was conditional on renouncing violence and never again associating with other felons, including his terrorist comrades. We learned at his 2011 parole hearing that along with rejecting those conditions, Lopez refused the 1999 clemency grant because another FALN leader, Carlos Torres was not offered clemency. Only after Torres was paroled in 2010, did Lopez seek release. Lopez was the heroic, martyr leader; the captain going down with his ship.
The other 15 FALN terrorists took the clemency offer and left prison on Sept. 10, 1999, almost two years to the day before our cousin Steve Schlag, my father’s godson, was murdered in the World Trade Center.
Viverito claims Lopez wasn’t accused of killing or harming anyone. In fact, he and his fellow FALN members were convicted of using force to commit armed robbery, interstate transportation of firearms, conspiracy to transport explosives to destroy government property and of willfully and knowingly joining a conspiracy to commit various acts of violence, including 28 Chicago-area bombings that maimed several people.
Further, all evidence indicates that those convicted in Chicago were part of the same national conspiracy that killed five people in New York, including our father’s murder at Fraunces and the New Year’s Eve 1982 attacks on Police Headquarters that left three NYPD detectives permanently injured.
Like the terrorist himself, Viverito and her terror supporters on the council are willing to lie, distort and obfuscate to win Lopez’s freedom. They know the truth shall not set Oscar Lopez free.
All we are asking for is justice for Frank Connor and the other terror victims; for terrorists like Lopez and Morales to serve their sentences; nothing more. That does not seem like too much to ask.