RE: Parades' Decisions Cause Controversy
The NYPD Patrolmen's Benevolent Association's (PBA) issued a statement deciding not to participate in the largest celebration of Puerto Rican diversity in its 60th Anniversary because we are honoring Oscar López Rivera. This statement was confusing and incomprehensible, since they have not joined the Parade as a contingent ever. NYPD has and we urge them to do so this year.
Over the years, several New York City parades have honored leaders who elicit mixed reaction. We all remember the St. Patrick's Day Parade of 1983, when IRA leader, Michael Flannery of Queens, was chosen as Grand Marshal of the event. Although public opinion was divided, New York went ahead and celebrated Irish heritage. We all worked through the LGBT controversy of 1990, and the differences that arose with the Fire Department of New York in 2007. During these crucial times, the Big Apple's Irish American community, organized advocacy groups, public figures, and parade organizers, addressed their differences. In the end, unity prevailed and a great celebration of culture and pride took place each time.
This upcoming, on New York's iconic Fifth Avenue, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade will display a celebration full of cultural diversity and pride. The Parade will continue to serve as educational platform, as it works alongside the community in a productive and positive manner. It will celebrate 100 outstanding young people who will receive the Parade's scholarships. And yes, it will create awareness on issues, even if controversial, that affect us as a Puerto Rican community like the commutation of Oscar López Rivera's sentence after 35 years in jail, a journey we began in 2014 with an awareness and solidarity campaign for his cause.
PBA's decision belongs to them; Goya's corporate decision belongs to them. We understand that others may not be able to be with us. However, we will continue to represent all voices, with an aim to spark dialogue and find common ground, so that we can help advance our community and build cultural legacy.
The Board of Directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade
Monday, May 22, 2017