SUNY Brockport making convicted cop killer’s speaking event virtual
BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WHEC) — SUNY Brockport is making the controversial event where a convicted cop killer is speaking virtual, it announced Wednesday.
In an email to the "Brockport Community" Wednesday, President Heidi Macpherson said the decision was made to "help mitigate any potential security concerns around the Jalil Muntaqim event".
Her announcement did not mention any specific threats to safety, but did say "This event has elicited strong feedback, divergent opinions, and has already spurred protests."
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Jalil Muntaqim, also known as Anthony Bottom, was convicted of killing Patrolmen Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini in 1971. He was also a Black Panther and a member of the Black Liberation Army. Click here for more information about the Black Liberation Army.
Macpherson’s full email is below:
Dear Brockport Community:
The safety and security of our community is always our top priority. To help mitigate any potential security concerns around the Jalil Muntaqim event, we are engaging with key partners to build a plan that prioritizes the safety of our students, faculty, staff and campus guests.
With that goal in mind, we have decided to move this event to a virtual format. Details for the virtual program will be shared when they are finalized.
This event has elicited strong feedback, divergent opinions, and has already spurred protests. We are grateful for the various agencies and partners who will be supporting the safety of our campus during the upcoming days and weeks.
We urge students, faculty, and staff to engage in meaningful conversations about this situation.
I appreciate your continued commitment to critical conversations and respectful dialogue.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent the following statement to News10NBC on Thursday following the news:
In cases like this where there is controversy tied to the speaker’s appearance, it is even more important for the event to occur in-person, as there should be room for robust debate and attention to tough questions.
This is a classic example of a heckler’s veto — the university capitulating to detractors’ demands rather than defending expressive rights.