Obama-pardoned terrorist led group founded at Chicago public high school
The Marxist terrorist group once run by Oscar Lopez Rivera -- pardoned Jan. 17 by President Barack Obama and released from federal prison -- got its start in a Chicago public high school, led by a Chicago public school teacher.
The Chicago-based cell of Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN, was founded by CPS Spanish teacher and guidance counselor Carmen Valentin in the early 1970s at Tuley High School, 1313 N. Claremont, Wicker Park.
Her goal: establish Puerto Rico as an independent, communist state.
A 1980 Chicago Tribune story called Valentin the “godmother” of FALN in Chicago, reporting that “she was accused of organizing student protests at Tuley in 1973 that turned into bloody riots.”
Tuley students included Carlos Torres, who later became a national leader of FALN with Lopez-Rivera, as well as Torres’ wife, Marie Haydee.
Like Lopez-Rivera, whom the Tribune called “the group’s chief bombmaker,” Valentin was eventually arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy, robbery and weapons offenses. Her FALN group by then had been linked to more than 100 bombings -- killing five people and injuring dozens.
During her trial in a Chicago federal court, Valentin declared war against the United States before threatening U.S. District Judge Thomas McMillen.
“You are lucky that we cannot take you right now,” she said to McMillen before turning to the police in the courtroom. “You’ll be walking with canes and wheelchairs. Revolutionary justice can be fierce.”
President Bill Clinton pardoned Valentin in 1999.
But Valentin wouldn’t be the last CPS teacher active in FALN. In 1980, a Tuley teacher and FALN member was arrested for stealing $800 ($2,330 in 2016) from a Texaco gas station in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. He posted bond and was allowed to teach the following day.
“He would have to be found guilty before he could be ejected,” a district superintendent told the Chicago Tribune.
In 1997, Tuley’s successor, Clemente H.S., came under fire for using $1 million in state poverty funds to support FALN activities at the school.
A state investigation found local FALN leaders wanted to “indoctrinate students” and use school funds to further its objectives. That included giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to FALN activists who produced “a series of activities and ideological writings that were not geared to learning.”