Sunset Park Puerto Rican parade gets permit for first time in decades

Brooklyn Daily
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Viva los Boricuas!

For the first time in 20 years, Sunset Parkers will have the city’s blessing when they take to Fifth Avenue on Puerto Rican Day on June 14.

The avenue has long been the de facto gathering place for neighborhood revellers returning from the annual parade held in Manhattan, but the lack of a parade permit and a history of tensions between residents and police made the unsanctioned marches a powder keg that routinely burst into brawls between locals and law enforcement, according to this year’s organizers. By formalizing the fete with a parade permit, organizers hope to keep tensions well below the boiling point, an official said.

“I believe that there has to be some sort of change,” said Dennis Flores, parade organizer and head of police watchdog group El Grito de Sunset Park. “We have to create something new to prevent the same thing from happening every year.”

Residents have flooded Fifth Avenue following the Manhattan parade for decades, Flores said. It became so routine that he said police would close the avenue to traffic. The street closures prompted more people to leave the sidewalk — though they technically weren’t allowed to, Flores said. Police would then tell people to get out of the street and conflicts would erupt.

The dynamic created more harm than good, according to this year’s parade marshal.

“People mingling with traffic is serious and dangerous, but what ended up happening is that police closing the street became a source of fights breaking out,” said Javier Nieves, who organized city-sanctioned Puerto Rican Day Parades in the 1980s and also served as an assemblyman in the 1990s.

Blood hit the pavement during last year’s parade, when police battered and arrested a 17-year-old kid they accused of attacking cops. Police later dropped the charges, admitting in a letter to the boy’s attorney that the officer who claimed in a criminal complaint to have witnessed the attack was actually nowhere nearby when the alleged attack occurred.

The official parade and festival starts at 5 pm, but a longtime festival organizer suggested folks are likely to hit the streets early.

“I’m glad that the parade going to come back to Sunset Park, and I pray that both the people and the police will work together, because its going to be a full-day celebration,” said Pat Ruiz, who organized the now-defunct Boricua Festival in Prospect Park and later the Sunset Park waterfront.

Sunset Park Puerto Rican Day Parade on Fifth Avenue from 59th Street to 43rd Street at 5 pm. Festival in Sunset Park (43rd Street and Fifth Avenue) at 7:30 pm. Flores is asking for financial support for the parade via a crowd-funding website at

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Posted 12:00 am, June 9, 2015
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Reader feedback

Jose Lopez from Bayamon says:
The Second Oscar – Mandela March in New York City 2015

We will be having our 2nd Oscar – Mandela Protest March on Monday, June 22, 2015. We will start marching peacefully at 9 AM from Hunter College on East 68th Street and Lexington Avenue, to East 43rd Street and Lexington Avenue. We will then go East (turning left) to end up at the Ralph Bunche Park on First Avenue (across from the United Nations).

We will be at the park until 5 PM. We will be giving out flyers and talking to people about who Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera is. We will also be educating the public about Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship with the government of the United States (US).

Most people don’t know that every year, usually on the Monday after Fathers’ Day, the United Nations holds its hearing about the decolonization of Puerto Rico. The petitioners will usually join our protest after this meeting.

The UN determined in 1960 that colonialism is a crime against humanity. Since then, the UN has issued 33 resolutions asking for the US government to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. The US government has ignored these resolutions. What kind of democracy is that?

The US government tries to keep these hearings a secret. What we are trying to do is to get them out of the closet. The UN is in its 3rd decade trying to make the world colony-free. Please help us!

Most people also don’t know that the United States government takes out 14 times more money than what it invests in Puerto Rico. But, that is what colonies are for!

This savage exploitation impedes Puerto Rico’s ability to provide opportunities for Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico. That is why there are now more Puerto Ricans living away from Puerto Rico than in their homeland.

Oscar López Rivera has been incarcerated for 34 years for his struggle to decolonize Puerto Rico. Since colonialism is an international crime, international law gives Oscar the right to use whatever means necessary to decolonize his homeland. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years for doing the same thing as Oscar. This is why we say, Oscar López Rivera is our Nelson Mandela!

United Partners for Puerto Rico Decolonization invites the public to be part of the tsunami of people that will be necessary to make the US government comply with the UN resolutions. These annual protests in Puerto Rico and at the UN are absolutely necessary, because, those who maintain colonies, don’t believe in justice for all!

José M López Sierra
June 9, 2015, 7:55 pm
M Ortiz from Sunset park says:
The Boricua Festival is not defunct and will take place in the park from 12-5pm june 14th
June 9, 2015, 10:36 pm
Martinez from Sunset Park says:
Sunset Park will have two celebrations from Noon to 5pm. in the park the Boricua Festival Committee, Inc. will have a festival/concert for all.
June 10, 2015, 8:39 am
james craig from sunset park says:
Deport them all,
June 11, 2017, 7:31 am

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