SUNY Brockport pulls funding for parolee’s event
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Jalil Muntaqim, formerly known as Anthony Bottom, was convicted in 1971 of killing two New York City police officers. He is due to speak at SUNY Brockport next month. The engagement is being met with outrage from some in the community.
The talk is being called “History of Black Resistance, US Political Prisoners & Genocide: A Conversation with Jalil Muntaqim.” According to college officials, a faculty member invited Muntaqim, who was approved for a grant. Now the calls to stop this event are getting louder.
Known then as Anthony Bottom, he joined the Black Panther Party at 16. At 18 he joined the Black Liberation Army. In 1971, he killed two New York City police officers: Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini in an ambush attack.
He spent nearly 50 years behind bars and was released on parole in 2020, and now resides in Brighton.
In a statement from SUNY Brockport’s president Heidi McPherson, she says she understands the outrage, adding, “the college has received strong feedback about this visit. Some are outraged that a man convicted of such crimes was invited on the campus. Others look forward to the opportunity to learn about [his] experiences.”
McPherson went on to add they do not support the violence he exhibited 50 years ago, and his presence on campus is not an endorsement. Rather, she says the school believes in freedom of speech. Knowing this conversation will be uncomfortable, she says it’s meant to gain a new perspective.
In a statement, Officials from the Rochester Police Locust Club said the tax-payer-funded talk should be replaced with a better lesson. Police union president Mike Mazzeo is asking for a talk that promotes positive change and will bring people together, adding they will always stand behind their slain brothers in blue.
The wife of one of the slain police officers is demanding the event be canceled, saying Muntaquim emptied 22 bullets into her husband’s body.
On Twitter, Rochester Chamber President and CEO Bob Duffy said “Sorry, Muntaquim is no political prisoner,” and he asked SUNY not to pay him for this appearance.
SUNY Brockport did say in a statement Wednesday they are pulling the funding, but the event is still on for April 6th:
“Over the last several days, we have received new information regarding a Promoting Excellence in Diversity Grant awarded to allow one of our faculty members to bring Jalil Muntaqim to campus. As a result, the committee has rescinded the grant and no funding will be used to pay the speaker. We are not, however, cancelling the event. Academic freedom allows our faculty to invite guests of their choosing to campus to address our students. Effective immediately, we will be pausing the PED grant program while a thorough review and revision of the grant application process can take place.
Sincerely, Damita Davis Chief Diversity Officer”
SUNY Brockport statement:
“On April 6, Jalil Muntaqim, previously known as Anthony Bottoms, will be at the SUNY Brockport campus to deliver a talk entitled, “History of Black Resistance, U.S. Political Prisoners & Genocide: A Conversation with Jalil Muntaqim.” He was invited by one of our faculty members who was approved for a Promoting Excellence in Diversity grant.
Mr. Muntaqim joined the Black Panther Party at age 16 and the Black Liberation Army at 18. In 1971, he was convicted in the killing of two New York City Police Officers. He spent nearly 50 years in prison for this crime before being released on parole in 2020. The College has received strong feedback about this visit. Some are outraged that a man who has been convicted of such crimes was invited onto campus. Others look forward to the opportunity to learn about Mr. Muntaqim’s experiences.
We do not support the violence exhibited in Mr. Muntaqim’s previous crimes, and his presence on campus does not imply endorsement of his views or past actions. However, we believe in freedom of speech. SUNY Brockport has routinely held speaking events involving controversial speakers from various background and viewpoints, and will continue to do so. These conversations are uncomfortable. They are meant to be. They’re about gaining a new perspective.
Mr. Muntaqim’s talk will give those who choose to engage an opportunity to learn about his perspective and what may have contributed to his past experiences. Individuals will have the opportunity to ask difficult questions. They can ask why he chooses to identify as a former political prisoner. They can ask how his life experiences have informed the work he does now.
Every individual can decide for themselves what they, personally, should do with that information. Should they just absorb it? Do they want to learn more? Do they wish to reject it? Thank you for your continued willingness to engage in critical and respectful dialogue.
Sincerely, President Macpherson“
Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter Statement:
“My husband looked at him, turned and said ‘I have a wife, I have children,’ but he continued to shoot,” Diane Piagentini said.
New York City Police Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones were ambushed in a premeditated attack in Harlem when responding to a fabricated call for service on May 26, 1971. Anthony Bottom shot Officer Jones in the back of the head with a .45, and then in the neck, Joe Waverly and then in the back, and then in the buttocks; Officer Jones died instantly. Piagentini was shot 13 times and succumbed to his injuries while enroute to the hospital.
Anthony Bottom now resides in Monroe County under the assumed moniker Jalil Muntagim. While we were outraged at his release and move to our community, most complained and then moved on. Now, to add insult to injury, Bottom will be speaking at SUNY Brockport on April 6, 2022, about his ‘…almost fifty years as a political prisoner…” This statement is not an accurate account of why he was in prison. He was in prison for the murder of two police officers and to say anything less is a disservice to their memory. As a Christian, God commands me to forgive. In the Old and New Testaments there are innumerable references to God’s forgiveness and his expectation for us to forgive. So, as I sit here writing this, as I pray for victims of crime and their families, I also forgive and pray for those responsible for causing so much pain and suffering.
As a senior elected law enforcement officer of Monroe County, I take an oath to uphold the constitutions and laws of the United States and the State of New York. Implicit in that oath is the unwavering commitment to securing the safety and tranquility of our citizens. For this commitment, we ask little and sacrifice much. In an extreme instance, all is sacrificed. When this ultimate sacrifice occurs, our ask, our expectation, is that once lawfully convicted, those responsible receive the ultimate punishment our system of justice allows. Bottom has the right guaranteed by the First Amendment to enjoy freedom of expression no matter how distasteful. For a government agency to seek him out, advertise, accommodate and compensate him for his speech defies credulity.
There can be no earthly redemption for Bottom’s heinous acts. His release was an abomination, his invitation to speak publicly to espouse his narrative of being a victim is abhorrent and an insult to the honor of the lives he destroyed. Forgiveness yes, redemption no.
Police union statement:
The New York City PBA has learned that the notorious cop-killer now named Jalil Muntaqim has been invited to speak at the State University of New York’s Brockport College on April 6 in a taxpayer-funded “conversation” in which – promotional materials indicate – he’ll be depicted as a “U.S. political prisoner,” rather than the bloody assassin that he really is.
PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said: “SUNY Brockport has a duty to teach its students the truth. This individual is not a hero. He was not a political prisoner. He is an unrepentant murderer who can teach nothing but how to tear our society apart through violence. This lecture must be cancelled and replaced with a better lesson. We humbly suggest studying some of the heroes of the NYPD’s 32nd Precinct – not only Patrolmen Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini, but also Police Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora. These were four young men from diverse backgrounds who sacrificed their own lives to protect their community in times of turmoil. Brockport’s students should follow their example, instead of listening to Muntaqim’s self-serving lies.”
Rochester Police Locust Club President Michael Mazzeo said: “We stand in support of our brothers and sisters in the NYC PBA, as well as all active and retired police officers who are calling out the false portrayal of an ‘intellectual conversation’ that involves Anthony Bottom which is being hosted by SUNY Brockport. It is clear from own words in his previous blog posts (#30 & 31), that what he told the parole board were just words and nothing more. He was imprisoned for an act of intentional premeditated murder, not for a political view. His conversation at Brockport will be more of the same, blame everyone and everything in the world except his own actions. At a time when Rochester is facing unprecedented levels of violence and loss of life, the last thing we need is another ‘expert’ to further divide our community. While many are working hard to build a better future, we need meaningful answers, not more biased criticisms. The intellectual conversation that should be had is why it was beneficial to our city to approve his residency here with his background and character. We demand that Brockport cancel the event and instead work towards bringing people together for positive change.”
Fifty-one years ago, when his name was Anthony Bottom, Muntaqim and three Black Liberation Army comrades ambushed two unsuspecting patrolmen – Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones – by sneaking up behind them in a Harlem housing project and shooting them both in the back from point-blank range. Jones died immediately but Piagentini had to beg for his life before the killers finished him off.
An event invitation posted on SUNY Brockport’s website describes Muntaqim as a “loving human being” while neglecting to mention that he is a convicted cop-killer.
Diane Piagentini, the slain cop’s widow says literature for the event – titled “History of Black Resistance, U.S. Political Prisoners & Genocide: A Conversation With Jalil Muntaqim” – is full of distortions and omissions. She has written to SUNY Brockport’s president, Dr. Heidi Macpherson, and to the event’s sponsor, assistant professor Rafael Outland, pointing out the omissions and demanding cancellation of the event.
“While my husband lay on the ground pleading with them not to kill him, pleading he had a wife and children,” Mrs. Piagentini wrote in the letter to Outland, “Bottom took his (the officer’s) service revolver and emptied it into his body. There were 22 bullet holes in his body…”
In the letter, Mrs. Piagentini also informed Outland that “when asked why he had killed a black officer, Bottom replied, ‘A pig is a pig’ it made no difference to him. He cursed that the white officer would not die.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.