Despite intense public backlash, school won’t rescind speaking invitation for convicted murderer who spent nearly 50 years behind bars for killing two NYPD officers.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Despite intense public backlash, the State University of New York at Brockport has refused to withdraw a speaking invitation to Anthony Bottom, a convicted domestic terrorist who spent nearly half a century behind bars and co-founded an antisemitic organization.
Bottom, who is also known by the name Jalil Muntaqim, was a member of the violent Black Liberation Army terror group in the 1970s and 1980s, which carried out multiple deadly bombings, arsons, and robberies.
Bottom shot and killed two New York city police officers in a 1971 ambush and was linked to an additional three murders. After being incarcerated for 49 years, he was paroled in October 2020.
A description of the upcoming April talk, titled “History of Black Resistance” on SUNY-Brockport’s events calendar, invites students to an “intellectual conversation” about his experience as a “political prisoner.”
Diane Pigaentini, the widow of an NYPD officer killed by Bottom, blasted the college for hosting Bottom.
“While my husband lay on the ground pleading with them not to kill him, pleading he had a wife and children, Bottom took his service revolver and emptied it into his body,” Piagentini wrote in a letter to the school obtained by PIX 11.
“There were 22 bullet holes in his body,” she said.
But despite public pressure to withdraw the speaking invitation, the school has framed Muntaqim’s presence as a free speech issue.
“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,” said SUNY Brockport President Heidi MacPherson in a statement.
“However, we believe in freedom of speech. SUNY Brockport has routinely held speaking events involving controversial speakers from various backgrounds and viewpoints and will continue to do so.”
During his time in prison, Bottom co-founded an organization called the Jericho Project, which states its aim is to advocate for the release of “political prisoners” — largely consisting of other convicted terrorists and murderers whose political goals aligned with Bottom’s.
The avowedly anti-Israel Jericho Project has endorsed the BDS movement. Its mission statement emphasizes that “Zionism is a form of white supremacy and European colonialism. ‘Israel’ was founded on Zionism and is therefore an unjust and illegitimate state.”
Additionally, the Jericho Project has publicly stated its support for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas.