A march was held Tuesday on High Street in Holyoke — above in front of City Hall — in support of a resolution calling on President Barack Obama to release Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican national, from prison. He has served 34 years of a 75-year sentence. The City Council unanimously approved the resolution at City Hall after the march. (MIKE PLAISANCE / THE REPUBLICAN)
HOLYOKE — To the delight of a packed City Council Chambers, the council Tuesday approved a resolution urging President Barack Obama to grant unconditional release from federal prison of Oscar López Rivera.
Rivera is a Puerto Rican national who has served 34 years of a 75-year sentence for “seditious conspiracy” related to his participation in a a Puerto Rican nationalist group.
While nationally there has been debate about whether Rivera is a political prisoner or a terrorist, support was complete among the 13 councilors in attendance and most of the 18 speakers who made remarks in the public speak-out period.
“Let this man out of jail, please…You guys do it and I guarantee there’s going to be so many city councils in the United States following your lead,” said Jose O. Bou, owner of Salsarengue Restaurant & Seafood at 392 High St.
“Please let him out. He’s done his time. It’s time to let him out so he can enjoy his freedom as we enjoys ours,” Councilor at Large Joseph M. McGiverin said.
Led by Ward 2 Councilor Nelson R. Roman, who proposed the resolution, a march of more than 30 people was held in support before the City Council meeting from Salsarengue Restaurant to City Hall.
Roman said support is strong for the freedom of Lopez Rivera partly based on Holyoke’s population of 40,000 being about half Latino and many of those of Puerto Rican descent.
“That is the connection,” said Owen R. Broadhurst, of Northampton Street.
A Vietnam War veteran, Lopez Rivera has had the United Nations, labor groups and numerous levels of elected officials call for his release, Roman said.
“Be it therefore resolved, the city of Holyoke urges President Obama to exercise his Constitutional power to grant the immediate and unconditional release of Oscar Lopez Rivera,” Roman’s resolution reads.
Lopez Rivera has served 34 years of a 75-year sentence for “seditious conspiracy” related to his participation in the FALN, a Puerto Rican nationalist group that has used violence in its campaign for Puerto Rican independence from the United States, though Lopez Rivera has not been charged with participating in bombings or injuring anyone, according to news reports such as Encyclopædia Britannica, Mother Jones, a left-learning magazine, the New York Daily News and City Journal, a quarterly published by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank.
Lopez Rivera is currently in the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The City Council Development and Government Relations Committee voted 5-0 Monday to recommend the full council approve the Rivera resolution.
A story with additional detail about the City Council voting for the Oscar Lopez Rivera resolution will be published later this week.
Originally appeared on: http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/04/holyoke_council_calls_on_presi.html