Things That Matter

Some Call Him A National Hero, Others A Militant Terrorist, But For The National Puerto Rican Day Parade Oscar Lopez Is In And Goya And Other Sponsors Are Out

After serving 35 years in prison, Oscar López Rivera had his prison sentence commuted by Barack Obama before leaving office.

López Rivera was the longest-jailed member of the group “Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional” or FALN (they really missed an opportunity there to be called “flan”), a paramilitary group whose mission was complete independence of Puerto Rico by any means necessary, as they saw U.S. rule as unjust and criminal.

López Rivera, however, as the New York Times puts it, is “a Puerto Rican militant associated with a group that carried out a deadly campaign of bombings in New York and other cities in the 1970s and 1980s.” The article also mentions that although López Rivera was convicted of several serious crimes, including robbery and interstate transportation of weapons to commit violent crimes, none of his charges actually involved “carrying out acts of violence.”

Before the end of President Obama’s final term, a petition calling for López Rivera’s release received over 100,000 signatures. Campaigns by several celebrities and politicians were also launched to get him released. Many feel the crime he was most penalized for was “seditious conspiracy,” which NPR’s Latino USA’s documentary on López Rivera said amounts to a “thought crime.” The video also discusses the United Nations’ assertion that colonized people have the right to self-determination by any means necessary.

Many Puerto Ricans celebrated his release. Others can’t forget FALN’s crimes.

DSC07260 - Arte Grafitti en Barrio Canas, Ponce, Puerto Rico, en apoyo al preso politico Oscar Lopez Rivera y condenando su encarcelamiento

Upon his release, López Rivera was invited by Puerto Rican Day Parade officials to attend as a “National Freedom Hero.”

Many of these sponsors have not taken kindly to what they see as a convicted felon, and member of a group responsible for the deaths of at least four people, being given an honorary title at the parade.

Among those sponsors, and the first to pull sponsorship, was Goya, whose headquarters are in New Jersey.

[AHORA] Conferencia de Prensa de Oscar López Rivera | Hoy expira su condena #OscarLopez

Posted by Telenoticias PR on Wednesday, May 17, 2017

López Rivera has been defending himself in the media.

Credit: mrcTV

He unequivocally denounced violence in an interview recently with Representative Luis Gutiérrez. López Rivera told the New York Times, “I do not have blood on my hands,” also adding, “All colonized people have a right to struggle for its independence using all methods within reach, including force.”

On May 23, 2017, the The Board of Directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade posted a response to the controversy around appointing López Rivera and the sponsorship fallout:

“While we cannot predict whether other sponsors and/or organizations might choose not to join us on Fifth Avenue this year, we expect they will do so with the same level of responsibility and professionalism as JetBlue and the Yankees. This community deserves no less. We thank the thousands of individuals, elected officials and community leaders who have expressed their support for the Parade, its 2017 honoree roster, and its commitment to raise awareness about the issues that impact Puerto Ricans across the world, even if some issues might spark a conversation.”

The physical parade goes on, but what will happen to the soul of the parade going forward?

Will it be an inclusive one or one divided by political ideologies, the way so much of this country seems to be at the moment? This could be a moment to come together, but will it be?

We can only hope so.


READ: Puerto Rico Is On The Brink Of Financial Ruin, So It’s Shutting Down A Record Number Of Public Schools


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A New York City Landlord Is Facing A K Fine After Threatening To Call ICE On Tenant

Things That Matter

A New York City Landlord Is Facing A K Fine After Threatening To Call ICE On Tenant

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We’ve all heard stories of shady landlords doing crazy things to their tenants. Whether it’s raising rent without notice or using discriminatory practices to try to kick out a resident. But one landlord in New York City took it up a notch when she threatened to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on her tenant if she didn’t pay overdue rent. An administrative judge in New York City ruled this month that the landlord should pay a ,000 fine and ,000 in damages for threatening to call ICE. 

The tenant, Holly Ondaan, is from Guyana with European Union citizenship and was undocumented when her former landlord, Dianna Lysius, threatened to call immigration officials on her. Now, Lysius is facing legal trouble and a hefty fine after a New York City judge called her actions a “human rights violation.” 

According to the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the judges decision is thought to be the first housing case in the country in which an individual was fined for threatening to call immigration authorities.

The situation began back in October 2017 when Ondaan, who lived on the Queens property since 2011, admittedly stopped paying rent due to financial difficulties in her life at the time. Shortly after, she began to receive texts from Lysius about the missing money that would lead to her falling behind in mortgage payments and eventually having to sell the property in foreclosure. In his ruling, Judge John B. Spooner said that Lysius’s “dire financial circumstances likely played a significant part in motivating her hostile messages.”

That’s when things started getting hostile. In January 2018, Lysius began eviction proceedings against Ondaan and would write in a text message that she would call ICE if she didn’t pay rent that same day. According to the judges report, some of the texts included:

“It was fun and games when you calling DOB now it’s fun and games calling immigration 12 times day. They can deport you.”

After a three months of discriminatory texts, New York’s Commission on Human Rights sent Lysius a cease-and-desist letter requesting that she stop harassing her tenant. The commission said that Lysius’s actions were discriminatory and unlawful. 

Lysius to this point has denied all the accusations of harassment towards her former tenant. While she has been fined, there are still more legal steps that must happen before it goes into effect.

The case is a first when it comes to a landlord using immigration services to threaten a tenant. The commission also saw it as a case setting precedent  and classified Lysius’s actions as discrimination under New York City’s human-rights law. 

“It sets important case precedent for the interpretation of our Human Rights Law to include the weaponization of ICE to intimidate or harass someone in housing as a violation,” Sapna V. Raj, deputy commissioner for the law enforcement bureau of the city’s Commission on Human Rights, told CNN. “We will not allow our city’s most vulnerable to be further marginalized out of fear for their safety in their own homes. Immigration status, citizenship, and national origin (perceived or actual) are protected categories under our law, and we will continue to fight to ensure those protections are enforced to the fullest extent.”

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Lysius said she never send the texts and emails to her former tenant and as of now, she plans to appeal the judge’s ruling. “Everything in that report is false,” Lysius said.

Ondaan has admitted that she wasn’t authorized to be in the U.S. at the time when Lysius threats began. She would obtain her green card in July 2018, according to the judges ruling. She would moved out of the property in October 2018, owing ,400 in back rent. A court ruled that Ondaan would have to pay ,895 of the past rent. 

Spooner’s decision won’t take effect before both parties have time to submit comments and the city human rights commission issues a final decision, according to CNN. Lysius can then file her appeal.

READ: ICE Has Made It Clear That The Cruelty In Its Policies Is The Point, Meanwhile An 8th Person Has Died In Their Custody

More Than 360,000 People Have Signed A Petition Calling For Trump Tower’s Address To Be ‘President Barack H. Obama Avenue’

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More Than 360,000 People Have Signed A Petition Calling For Trump Tower’s Address To Be ‘President Barack H. Obama Avenue’

There is something so satisfying about being petty or watching a petty situation take place. That is exactly what we are seeing right now with a petition asking for New York City to rename a stretch of 5th Ave. in front of Trump Tower to President Barack H. Obama Avenue. Obama’s name has been used to rename some roads in the U.S. already and people are pushing for that trend to land right on Donald Trump’s doorstep.

A petition on MoveOn.org is calling for NYC to rename a portion of 5th Ave. after President Obama.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

The petition started as a joke but it quickly gained attention and speed and has continued to grow. So far, more than 360,000 people have signed the petition and are hoping the Mayor Bill DeBlasio listens to their request.

Some are not sure if it will happen but so many people are really pushing for the change.

Credit: @arosebluch / Twitter

“The City of Los Angeles recently honored former President Barack Obama by renaming a stretch of the 134 Freeway near Downtown L.A. in his honor,” reads the petition. “We request the New York City Mayor and City Council do the same by renaming a block of Fifth Avenue after the former president whose many accomplishments include: saving our nation from the Great Recession; serving two completely scandal-free terms in office; and taking out Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind September 11th, which killed over 3,000 New Yorkers.”

While the petition is being taken seriously by some people, others are just here for the show.

Credit: @ayymiPAPITO / Twitter

We all love to see some next level pettiness and the people who created this petition, and support it, are giving people all kinds of life.

“I saw a comedian joke about how it would make Trump so mad if it was named after former President Obama and thought why not,” Elizabeth Rowin, the author of the petition, told Newsweek.

Some see this as a justifiable bout of karma.

Credit: @PamLukas3 / Twitter

Yet, the request is already failing one key factor for a street renaming in NYC. According to ABC7NY, individuals honorees have to be deceased for two years prior to consideration for such a dedication. There is also a moratorium on street renamings in that part of New York City further complicated the issue.

Regardless of the viability of the street renaming, people are completely invested in this happening.

Credit: @EarlOfEnough / Twitter

It isn’t clear if the letter and petition will or will not be sent to Mayor Bill DeBlasio. He is running for the presidency right now and it might serve as a good way to grab some headlines if he pushes it through. Just imagine Donald Trump having to put “President Barack H. Obama” on his business cards, letterhead, and outgoing mail.

READ: Trump’s Building In Uruguay Is A Bust And It’s Not Even Completed Yet But American Taxpayers Did Pay A Price