by National Boricua Human Rights Network (Chicago Chapter)
The National Boricua Human Rights Network (Chicago Chapter) wishes to thank all those who joined us in the Interfaith Freedom Convocation and Cultural Celebration for Oscar López Rivera a successful event. We documented that over 2,000 people from over 25 cities were mobilized. We want to thank the following organizations, in Chicago, for their support: Chicago Puerto Rican Agenda, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, Centro Sin Fronteras, New Life Covenant Church, Hispanic Housing Corporation, Community as a Campus, Norwegian American Hospital, and Urban Theater Company, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, as well as the more than 160 people who pooled their resources and made their way to Washington DC on bus, car, rail and planes.
Additionally, we must acknowledge the hard work, dedication and commitment of the following individuals, organizations, networks and internationally: Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez, Ingrid Vila and the Coalition for the Liberation of Oscar Lopez Rivera in Puerto Rico, Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, New York City Council, Rev. Luis Cortés of Philadelphia, as well as the elected officials present: Councilor Jossie Valentin, Holyoke, MA, Councilor Angel Arroyo, Lorain, OH, Felix Arroyo, Register of Suffolk, County, MA, State Rep. Angel Cruz, PA, State Rep. Leslie Acosta, Philadelphia, PA, State Assemblyman Jose Rivera, NY, State Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, Hartford, CT, Democratic Candidate to US Congress, Adriano Espailat, State Rep. James Flores, Willimantic, CT.
“I have come to proclaim release
to the prisoners”
by National Boricua Human Rights Network
The Interfaith Convocation which opened the October 9th Washington DC event for the freedom of Oscar Lopez Rivera was led by clergy and lay people from the Jewish, Muslim, and Quaker (Friends) traditions, and from across the Christian spectrum – including Catholics and Protestants, Methodists, Pentecostals, and leaders of the United Church of Christ. Led by Puerto Rican Bishop Rafael Moreno Rivas, head of the United Methodist Church on the island, the organizations joining the call for Oscar’s immediate, unconditional release included churches, synagogues and masjids from New York, Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Cleveland, and San Juan – but was primarily made up of representatives from international and national denominational groups. President Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, head of the million-strong United Church of Christ, sent a strong message to US President Barak Obama, as did the World Council of Churches and the multi-faith Fellowship of Reconciliation. Representing the community of Nobel Peace Laureates who have been steadfast in their support of Oscar’s freedom – which has included Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, East Timor President Emeritus (and United Nations official) Jose Ramos-Horta, and many others – was General Secretary Shan Cretin of the American Friends Service Committee, the Quaker-based association which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947. Additionally, representing new Life Covenant Church- the largest Evangelical Latino Church in the US- Veronica Ovalle- Ocasio, chief of staff to Senior Pastor Rev. Wilfredo de Jesus and immigration advocate and United Methodist Church leader Rev. Emma Lozano.
Pax Christi International’s Co-President Marie Dennis and Secretary General Greet Vanaerschot, the leading global voices of progressive Catholic Bishops and laity – with members in over fifty countries, joined in a statement which implored: “If we can vanquish greed and violence from our hearts and lives, than war and all that proceeds from it can give way to authentic peace, the divine birthright of us all. Among the first words of Jesus (echoing Isaiah) in public ministry were those you [supporters of Oscar Lopez Rivera] uphold today, ‘I have come to proclaim release to the prisoners!’ To your prayer and action for Oscar today, we say, ‘Amen! Let it be so!'” Matt Meyer, a coordinator of the Convocation, delivered messages from the Jewish community, citing Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center and noting: “‘How do we treat the Yom Kippur prophetic reading in which Isaiah calls on the crowd not just to fast but to share their bread with the hungry… and then to go one huge and highly political step further and break off the handcuffs put on by wicked power?…We could break through the cage of words altogether, and actually do what Isaiah tells us that God, the Breath of Life, demands!’ We could, we must,” Meyer concluded, “take strong action for freedom! Free Oscar Lopez Rivera NOW!”