Common Sense: Clemency for killers

Later this week, I will see Joe Connor. You may know Joe from his appearances on FOX or from a news article or a lecture like the one I had him present in Dyker Heights a few weeks back.  You may know his story.  You may know of his father Frank.  Frank Connor was a victim of domestic terrorism. Frank died in the Fraunces Tavern bombing planned and executed by the FALN in the 1970s.

The FALN was a Puerto Rican domestic terrorist group committed to advocating violently for Puerto Rican independence.  It conducted a number of bombings and attacks in the ‘70s including several in New York City. One of its leaders was Oscar Lopez-Rivera.  He was captured, tried, convicted and sentenced to 55 years in prison.  He was directly linked to the bombing at Fraunces Tavern which killed Frank Connor.

Last week, the New York City Council voted 41 to eight with three abstentions to call on President Obama to grant clemency to the domestic terrorist and murderer Lopez-Rivera.  It was the brainchild of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito who has spoken publicly of someday seeking political office in her native Puerto Rico.  It was supported by a number of local councilmembers including David Greenfield, Mark Treyger and Carlos Menchaca.  Councilmember Gentile did the right thing and voted against it as did the three Republican members of the Council.

Greenfield and Treyger and other councilmembers will rightfully do all in their power to focus attention on Middle East terrorists killing innocent people, but they are willing to have an American terrorist released back onto our streets. They will properly talk about the need for security money to help protect parochial schools, but they will vote to recommend a killer be released from prison. They got it wrong big time.

Each and every one of these councilmembers owes the citizens of our city an explanation for their absurd vote. I call on them to respond to this column by writing a letter to the editor in response to my claims.

I want to know what possible reason they can give to justify their actions. I want to know so when I see Joe Connor this week and he looks me in the eye and asks me what I am doing as a political leader to keep a killer behind bars and an injustice from occurring against him and his family, I can say I have taken those who have brought new pain to you and yours to task.

The incredibly inept behavior of this City Council on this issue and so many issues has gone far enough and it must come to an end. And to my way of thinking, the best way for that to come about is for the Council to know that the public is watching and that it does not like what it sees.

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While the New York City Council is working to free a killer, the 68TH Precinct Community Council is working to spend a summer in support of our local police. Council President Ilene Sacco and her board do an outstanding job in fostering an excellent relationship between the Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights community and the local police precinct. They have been doing a great job from as far back as I can remember – from the days when Mike Behlen was the president a good 35 years ago.

Last week, the community council held a press conference at the precinct in which they encouraged groups to create posters from their organizations that will be signed by community people in support of the police. The posters with what will I suspect be thousands of signatures will be presented to the precinct to be hung on its walls.  It is a simple, yet meaningful way for as many people as would like to, to show support for our police. The precinct council should be commended.

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