Mayor Bill de Blasio is not one to regularly skip out on a parade. So even as controversy swirled around this Sunday's upcoming Puerto Rican Day Parade, Hizzoner said he was going to march. On Monday, the mayor revealed he was working behind the scenes to try to kick out the figure at the center of the controversy. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Somewhat abruptly, last week, Oscar Lopez Rivera was no longer going to be honored at the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Perhaps it was the mayor maneuvering behind the scenes.
"I made clear to them that I was uncomfortable with the situation and I wanted them to resolve it, I really believe they could resolve it," Bill de Blasio said. "If it wasn't resolved, I wasn't going to be a part of it."
It was a change in tune for the mayor, who had hesitated to criticize the former leader of a Puerto Rican nationalist group just last week.
"He was part of an organization that obviously did employ violence. He was not involved directly in that violence," de Blasio said.
"No, violence is not acceptable," de Blasio said Monday. "In the end, no, of course I don't agree with what he did. And I don't think he should be the issue any longer."
What Oscar Lopez River did was lead a group known as the FALN, which was responsible for dozens of bombings in the 1970s and '80s, including in New York. Although never convicted of violence crimes, he served 35 years in prison for sedition. President Barack Obama commuted his sentence.
He is considered a Puerto Rican hero to some and was going to be honored in this week's parade. But corporate sponsors dropped out and elected officials withdrew.
The mayor made some phone calls.
"It's not for me to dictate to them how to do it. I just made clear to them what was going on wasn't going to work and had to be changed," de Blasio said.
This is not the mayor's first foray into parade politics. Two years ago, he boycotted the St. Patrick's Day Parade for not allowing gay groups to march. A year later, the parade changed its tune and de Blasio came aboard.
As for the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the mayor says the problem is over. Elected officials and sponsors should come back and march.
Later on Monday, not even his own police commissioner would take that advice.
"I maintain my original position," James O'Neill said. "I am not going to march in the parade."
For now, it's unclear if those other elected officials or those corporate sponsors will be changing their minds. But it certainly sounds like the mayor would like them to.