‘Shocking, Abhorrent’: University Hosts Cop-Killer To Speak, Calls Him ‘Political Prisoner’

Sheriff: “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.”
crime scene

A university in New York will host a cop-killer to speak to its students at an event titled, “The History of Black Resistance, U.S. Political Prisoners & Genocide: A Conversation with Jalil Muntaqim” on April 6.

The State University of New York at Brockport offered this description of the event, calling Muntaqim a “political prisoner.”

Join Jalil Muntaqim for an intellectual conversation on his time with the Black Panthers and serving nearly 50 years as a political prisoner. …  Please join this important conversation with Jalil Muntaqim. All SUNY Brockport students, faculty, and staff are invited. You don’t want to miss it!

“The biography does not mention that Muntaqim, then known as Anthony Bottom, was convicted in 1971 for killing two New York City Police officers — Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini — and served decades in prison,” ABC 13 WHAM reported. “He was paroled in 2020 and moved to Rochester. He drew attention that fall when he registered to vote: something he was not eligible to do.”

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter described the murder of the police officers:

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.

Baxter recalled that Diane Piagentini stated, “My husband looked at him, turned and said ‘I have a wife, I have children,’ but he continued to shoot.”

Baxter continued:

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.

Diane Piagentini has always attended  Muntaqim’s parole hearings. She stated, “My initial reaction when I got the email … was how could this be happening. The college can do whatever they want but what they did not do here was be honest with who this man is.”

University President Heidi Macpherson issued a statement to defend the university. It included this:

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.

Tim Dymond, president of the New York State Police Investigators Association, said he wanted the university to withdraw its invitation, saying, “To refer to a convicted killer who murdered two police officers as a ‘Political Prisoner’ is shocking, abhorrent and an insult to the families of the two slain officers. NYSPIA fully supports freedom of speech, and we do not question the right of an individual share their thoughts and opinions. However, we do question why SUNY Brockport would invite a convicted cop killer to campus and refer to him as a ‘political prisoner.’”

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