‘There wasn’t any talk of the actual crime that he did commit’: SUNY Brockport students on Muntaqim’s talk
BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WHEC) — Students watching SUNY Brockport’s latest controversial speaker declared his perspective worth hearing but left with questions unanswered about his violent past.
Convicted cop killer Anthony Bottom, who now goes by Jalil Muntaqim attracted protest when he was booked to speak at the school.
SUNY Assistant Professor Rafael Outland delivered the introduction to the speech billed as “History of Black Resistance, U.S. Political Prisoners and Genocide, a conversation with Jalil Muntaqim.”
"A lot of people are arguing you shouldn’t give him the platform. But I’m not against listening to someone,” said Ellen Paddock, a student from Warsaw, Wyoming County.
The forum touched on a wide spread of themes: White supremacy, gentrification, the prison system, slave patrols, colonialism, climate change, and accusing the United States of being an empire engaging in genocide.
"He was talking a lot about corporations and the people,” noted student Caitlyn Stair from Churchville.
Students who came together to watch noticed that he did not talk about his murder of two New York City policemen in 1971, for which he was sent to prison until 2020.
Instead, he referred to "baggage I might have,” and referenced being involved in "armed struggle."
"I spent 49 years, nearly 50 years, in prison for my activities in regards to fighting against white supremacy and capitalist imperialism,” he said in his remarks.
"There wasn’t any talk of the actual crime that he did commit,” Paddock pointed out. “He shot two police officers 22 times. They were murdered in cold blood."
Muntaqim also focused on a list of convicted violent criminals he called “political prisoners,” declared himself to be one, and said he’s trying to get the United Nations involved in their cases.
“He talked a lot about being a political prisoner,” said student Sarah Killip. “But there was no—there wasn’t any mention of convicted murders—which he was convicted for.”
And even as protesters demonstrated against the event outside on the SUNY campus, students said the opportunity to get this kind of perspective was worthwhile.
“It’s kind of caused conversations on campus, important conversations,” Stair said.
The virtual appearance did attract some criticism from people who wanted to see the speaker in person.
SUNY invited the community to register for the talk online after the campus community, and the event was completely full as of last night.