Chicago should be just fine after naming a street after a convicted terrorist

Things must really be looking up in the Windy City, where municipal leaders are going about the business of raising people’s spirits. In one display of such civic awareness a local alderman has managed to get a resolution pushed through renaming a street in honor of a notable figure. This is an honored tradition in the United States which is practiced virtually everywhere. (I’ve lost track of how many thoroughfares have been named after John F. Kennedy.) In this case Chicago has chosen a slightly different approach, however. As our Townhall colleague Leah Barkoukis explains, the street will be named after someone who is famous (or should I say infamous) for somewhat different reasons.

In truly progressive fashion, Chicago renamed one of its streets after a terrorist.

Earlier this month Alderman Robert Maldonado submitted a proposal to name three blocks of a city street after Oscar Lopez Rivera, the founder of the Puerto Rican terror group FALN, which was responsible for 120 bombings and armed robberies in the U.S. during the ‘70s and ‘80s that killed nine and injured hundreds of others.

On Wednesday, aldermen approved the measure honoring Lopez Rivera, the terrorist whose 70-year sentence was recently commuted by Barack Obama.

Are these people just going out of their way to try to turn their neighborhood into a colossal joke? (And a particularly bad joke at that.) Oscar Rivera is, beyond any doubt or question, a terrorist. The fact that anyone in the media can, with a straight face, refer to him purely as a proponent of Puerto Rican independence would be hysterical were it not for the bloody legacy that Rivera left in his wake.

In case you were wondering where Rivera is today, he is awaiting release next month under house arrest in Puerto Rico. He was originally offered a clemency deal in the 90s by Bill Clinton but chose to turn it down. More than three decades behind bars appears to have softened his position since he accepted a similar offer from Barack Obama in January. (Politico)

On January 17, 2017, as one of the final acts of his presidency, Barack Obama commuted the sentence of 74-year-old Oscar Lopez Rivera, the Puerto Rican nationalist who had served 35 years of a 55-year conviction for the crime of “seditious conspiracy,” as well as attempted robbery, explosives and vehicle-theft charges. Thanks to Obama’s intercession, Lopez will be freed in May.

In some quarters, Obama’s decision was greeted with elation. Spontaneous celebrations broke out in San Juan. Luis Gutiérrez, a Democratic congressman from Illinois who represents the West Side Chicago neighborhood in which Lopez grew up, said in a statement that he was “overjoyed and overwhelmed” by Lopez’s release.

I realize that Chicago’s leaders have been in a running battle with Donald Trump for pretty much the last year, so was this some sort of thumb in his eye? And even if so, it still seems as though they have bigger fish to fry. In case nobody noticed, the city has already surpassed the 100 mark for murders in 2017 and we’re not even done with the second month of the year yet. There’s something for the peanut gallery to ponder. Rahm Emanuel claims that he is open to and willing to consider help from the federal government in terms of getting his gang violence problem under control, though there is little evidence to support that claim. But even if he wants to fight tooth and nail against the White House, is this really the appropriate time to be naming one of the city’s byways after someone who was personally responsible (if only indirectly) for so much murder and mayhem himself?

This would almost be funny if it weren’t for the staggering size of the body count. And yet, the denizens of Chicago seem to keep electing the same clueless people over and over again.