A hero sacrifices a great deal – sometimes their life – for a cause much bigger than themselves. For this reason Oscar López Rivera and Don Pedro Albizu Campos are great heroes.
They were both jailed for “seditious conspiracy against the United States.” In other words…they believed in the independence of Puerto Rico, and they were jailed for that belief.
Jailed by the US, the “leader of the free world.”
Last May in New York City, nearly 10,000 people marched to say FREE OSCAR LÓPEZ RIVERA NOW.
We marched through the streets of El Barrio, and let the world hear about Oscar.
Oscar’s head could be seen from every building, every corner.
NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was in the front ranks of the march.
The crowd stopped at 106th street, near the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center.
Old friends met each other. Oscar’s brother, José Lopez Rivera, celebrated the cause together with Assemblyman José Rivera.
I was proud to march with José Lopez Rivera, as well.
We shared some memories with veteran photographer Bolivar Arellano, and one of the finest men ever to serve in the New York State Assembly…Javier Nieves.
I had to remind Bolivar that our conversations were off the record.
I also argued with Mike Nieves, one of the smartest political strategists in New York State. I lost that argument.
Congressman José Serrano spoke passionately about justice for Oscar López Rivera.
Assemblyman Nieves and I became inseperable.
We celebrated the life and sacrifice of our great heroes, and reminded the world that Oscar López Rivera is the longest-incarcerated political prisoner on the planet.
A dozen elected officials, union leaders, ministers, church choirs, all came out in support of our hero, Oscar López Rivera. It was a celebration of Oscar’s life, and what he stands for. In the streets of New York, in front of the world’s media, 10,000 people demanded the release of Oscar López Rivera from federal prison.
34 years is ENOUGH.
After it was over, we all said hello to a few more old friends before heading home.
Before I forget…one of the most beautiful sights in the world.