The city of Chicago is naming one of its streets after a convicted terrorist.
The proposal came earlier this month from 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado and, according to WLS-TV, was approved by the Chicago City Council's Transportation Committee on Wednesday.
In the near future, the city will install a small sign above an inner street in Humbodlt Park — the center of Chicago's Puerto Rican community — bearing the name Oscar López Rivera.
López Rivera was a founding member of the terror group FALN, which UPI reported in 1982 claimed responsibility for approximately 120 bombings set off in the 1970s in the New York City area, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. The Puerto Rican nationalist, through FALN, violently advocated complete independence for Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States.
Despite all that, Maldonado argued the 74-year-old criminal "has become a unifying international figure within the fight for human rights."
"This honorary street is a little thing that we're doing for him in the Puerto Rican community," he told WLS.
It seems former President Barack Obama has a similar view of López Rivera. On Jan. 17, just days before leaving the presidency to Donald Trump, Obama commuted López Rivera's 55-year conviction for the crime of "seditious conspiracy," as well as attempted robbery, explosives and vehicle-theft charges, Politico reported.
López Rivera, after initially refusing a 1999 clemency offer from then-President Bill Clinton, will be freed in May after serving 35 years of his sentence.
But Joe Connor, a columnist for Townhall.com whose father was murdered in the 1975 attack on Manhattan's Fraunces Tavern, doesn't see the Puerto Rican nationalist through the same rose-colored glasses. In a column for the Chicago Sun-Times last week, he wrote:
This is the felon whom Chicago plans to honor. I ask Ald. Maldonado, in the name of decency, to withdraw the honorary street designation for terror leader Oscar López Rivera and cancel the vote. Should Maldonado refuse, I ask Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel and the other aldermen to reject and vote against the naming of Oscar López Rivera Way.
I implore Chicago leaders to ask yourselves: Why? Oscar Rivera López Way? Why?
"The idea that people will walk by and see this street sign and think that Oscar Lopez was some sort of great person — it’s diabolical," he told the Sun-Times. "The world is upside down here. What’s next for Chicago, bin Laden Boulevard? Charles Manson Court?"
And in a letter to the editor at the Sun-Times, one Puerto Rican woman, Janette Lopez, even apologized to Connor for the decision to name the street after López Rivera:
On behalf of those and myself who find naming a street honoring Oscar Lopez Rivera appalling; we are truly sorry, Mr. Connor, and to all those who have been hurt with those radical and extremist ideas. As a Puerto Rican female, I am so ashamed that Oscar Lopez, leader of the FALN, and a convicted terrorist, will be getting a street sign honoring him.
I’m assuming Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) couldn’t find anyone who truly deserved this honor. I am speechless. Shame on you Ald. Maldonado! Shame on all of you who supported this thoughtless designation!