NEW YORK –– Nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera has agreed to "step aside" from any formal role in the city's Puerto Rican Day parade on June 11, Mayor de Blasio said Thursday evening.
“The parade has always been about Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans, not any one participant," de Blasio said in a statement. "It is a celebration of a culture and community at the center of what makes New York City great. Unfortunately, the parade and the plight of Puerto Rico have been overshadowed by needless controversy. Oscar Lopez Rivera agreeing to step aside from any formal role in the parade is a critical step forward in refocusing our city's attention on the more important issues facing Puerto Rico."
Parade organizers had planned to honor Oscar Lopez Rivera, a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN, which claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings in the 1970s and 1980s.
He served more than 35 years in prison before his sentence was commuted by Democratic President Barack Obama.
The parade's decision to honor Lopez prompted sponsors including Coca-Cola, JetBlue and AT&T to drop out of the parade.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.