The fight to release a long incarcerated political activist drew thousands of people in Manhattan Saturday. NY1's Erin Clarke filed this report.
They say “enough is enough.”
Supporters of one of the world's longest held political prisoners marched through the streets of Harlem calling on President Barack Obama to grant clemency to Oscar Lopez Rivera.
He's been in prison since 1981 for his connection to the FALN—an organization fighting for independence for Puerto Rico that was tied to more than 100 bombings across the U.S. in the 70s and 80s.
Rivera himself was never found to be directly connected to any of the attacks.
"He's convicted of seditious conspiracy to try to end US colonial control over Puerto Rico,” says Jan Susler, Lopez Rivera’s lawyer. “Nelson Mandela was in prison for the same thing Oscar Lopez is in prison for."
He's been imprisoned seven years longer than Mandela, however, for what many here say is not a crime.
In 1999, the Vietnam veteran refused a pardon offer from President Bill Clinton because it wasn't given to all imprisoned advocates for Puerto Rico's independence.
“They have special rules that you don't leave nobody behind. He refused to sign because there were two of our comrades left," says former political prisoner Adolfo Matos.
In that time Lopez's family has been without a brother, and a father.
“In all those 34 years, we've had many deaths in our family. We've had a lot of celebrations and he's never been able to be part of any of that," says Jose Lopez, Lopez Rivera’s brother.
"It’s hard to be raised by a single mother and far away from your dad," says Clarissa Lopez, his daughter.
So a diverse community has gathered around this family over the decades, standing in support.
“We're not here supporting any political cause. We're not here saying Puerto Ricans oppose independence, no. We are not here for that. We're here to say he's a human being that has served 34 years in prison. Why?” says state Senator Ruben Diaz Sr.
Without a pardon, Oscar Rivera is set to be released in 2023.