Bronx parade draws controversy for honoring militant group member

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THE BRONX -

An event in the Bronx that celebrates cultural pride in the nation isn't coming without controversy.

As the 60th annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade approaches, its board of directors hosted a street festival Saturday, which served as a preview of the main event on June 11.

The street festival also honored Oscar Lopez Rivera, member of a militant nationalist group who was recently freed from prison.

Lopez Rivera is a former member of the group FALN, of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, which claimed responsibility for bombings in major U.S. cities in the 1970s and '80s.

Lopez Rivera was never charged with any of the bombings, but he served time for sedition, transportation of firearms with intent to commit violent crimes and transportation of explosives with intent to kill and injure people, and destroy government property.

The bombings by the group included a blast at Fraunces Tavern in New York City in 1975, which killed four and wounded others.

Former President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of the 74-year-old Puerto Rican nationalist, who served more than 35 years in prison.

Lopez Rivera will also be honored at the parade as its first-ever "national freedom hero" and march at the front of the procession.

Sponsors like Univision, Coca Cola, Jet Blue, AT&T, Goya, the New York Daily News and the Yankees have backed out of the parade. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also recently backed out of the parade without giving a reason.

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