Mayor to march in Puerto Rican parade amid controversy

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Mayor Bill de Blasio says he will march in this year's Puerto Rican Day Parade despite growing protests surrounding a decision by organizers. Mayor Bill de Blasio says he will march in this year's Puerto Rican Day Parade despite growing protests surrounding a decision by organizers.
NEW YORK -

Mayor Bill de Blasio says he will march in this year's Puerto Rican Day Parade despite growing protests surrounding a decision by organizers.

This year, officials named the controversial Puerto Rican nationalist figure Oscar Lopez Rivera as an honoree — a move that prompted boycotts from spectators, advertisers and sponsors. Huge companies like Coca-Cola and Goya Foods withdrew their support. So did the Yankees.

Lopez Rivera was part of a militant group called the Armed Forces of National Liberation that claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings in New York, Chicago, Washington and Puerto Rico in the 1970s and 1980s.

"I think violence is wrong in all its forms, but I am not marching with this individual," the mayor says. "I think that's an absolute misstatement of what's going on here."

De Blasio says he thinks people are misunderstanding organizers' intentions with the selection of Lopez Rivera, and that he hopes people won't let their feelings toward Lopez Rivera get in the way of celebrating the parade's tradition.

"I hope, despite this controversy, we can get this conversation back to what I believe they were trying to highlight which is the extraordinarily unfair way Puerto Rico is being treated by the United States government right now," de Blasio says.

The mayor says he will march on June 11 for the people of Puerto Rico, not for the people honored by the parade.

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