Oscar López Rivera's Chicago Homecoming - A Photo Essay

Photos and words by April Alonso.

On Thursday, May 18th, 2017, Oscar López Rivera returns to Chicago's Humboldt Park for the first time since he was pardoned by President Obama after serving 35 years out of his 70 year prison sentence as a political prisoner. Oscar López Rivera received a warm welcome from the locals in the neighborhood where he was honored by a march down Divison Street that began at La Casita de Don Pedro and continued down to Luis Munoz Marin where a street sign was unveiled in his honor. The celebration proceeded to continue down to the Humboldt Park Boathouse where a program of speakers addressed the crowd.

Puerto Rican Flags, Oscar López fans and a newspaper with the program schedule lay out on a table and were passed out to the public as they waited outside La Casita de Don Pedro for the arrival of freed political prisoner Oscar López Rivera.

Shakira, one of the people who participated in the organization of welcoming Oscar López, holds a newspaper with the program schedule for the event in Humboldt Park on Thursday May 18th, 2017.

The crowd awaits the arrival of Oscar López outside La Casita de Don Pedro in Chicago on Thursday May 18th, 2017. The police and organizers contained the crowd on one side of the sidewalk as traffic passed through before Division Street was closed down for the march.

Students from Pedro Albizu Campos High School form a pathway in preparation to welcome the arrival of Oscar López Rivera into La Casita de Don Pedro on Division Street.

A young woman stands outside La Casita de Don Pedro in Humboldt Park, awaiting the arrival of Oscar López on Thursday May 18th, 2017. She held a sign that reads “Gracias Oscar.”

The crowd awaits the arrival of Oscar López Rivera outside La Casita de Don Pedro in Humboldt Park on Division Street on Thursday May 18th, 2017.

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Oscar López approaches La Casita de Don Pedro as people welcomed his return to Humboldt Park for the first time in about 35 years and celebrated his freedom from incarceration.

Organizers of the event and students from Pedro Albizu Campos High School link their arms together to form a barricade around Oscar López that protected him from the media and public as the march made its way down Division street towards Luis Munoz Marin Dr.

Organizers of the event and students from Pedro Albizu Campos High School link their arms together to form a barricade around Oscar López that protected him from the media and public as the march made its way down Division street towards Luis Munoz Marin Dr.

Oscar pictured in the center, wearing a white shirt, holds onto US representative Luis Gutierrez and other participants of the march as they made their way towards Luis Munoz Marin Dr where the unveiling of the street sign to honor Oscar López Rivera took place.

The honorary street sign is unveiled in Humboldt Park as the crowd marched down Division Street celebrating Oscar López’s Rivera's return to the neighborhood for the first time since he was released from his pardoned prison sentence.

Oscar addresses the crowd near Luis Munoz Marin Dr in Humboldt Park where the unveiling of the street sign named in his honor took place. On both sides of Oscar López Rivera are US Representative Luis Gutierrez (Left) and Alderman Roberto Maldonado (Right).

74 year old Oscar López Rivera wears a Puerto Rican flag pin as he greets and interacts with the crowd gathered outside the Boathouse in Humboldt Park. 

Bomba con Buya - a local Puerto Rican Bomba group - serenade Oscar López Rivera as he arrived at the Boathouse.

A close up shot of the drummers of Bomba con Buya as the group plays Bomba to serenade the entrance of Oscar López Rivera into the Boathouse in Humboldt Park. 

The crowd makes its way towards Luis Munoz Marin Dr on Thursday May 18th, 2017 as they passed the Paseo Boricua flags that is prominent symbol representing Humboldt Park.