BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — Protestors gathered near SUNY Brockport to rally against the college’s invite of Jalil Muntaqim, who was convicted of killing two New York City Police Officers back in the ’70s, to speak about his time locked up as a “political prisoner”.  

Many speakers took the podium, including elected officials with ties to the SUNY Brockport and the surrounding community.

The speakers called out the school for what they see as disrespect to law enforcement.  

From county and state levels, legislatures and their supporters condemned Brockport for promoting Jalil Muntaqim to portray himself as a political prisoner in a paid speech.   

“Do you think that they would have for a minute this guy being a speaker if he shot up a post office and killed two people? Of course not,” Joe Robach, who opened the event said. “Do you think ever if he went on a college campus somewhere and killed two instructors, they would have him speaking? Never.”  

It was back in 1971 when Muntaqim, then known as Anthony Bottom and another man killed New York City Policemen Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones. He was released after spending almost 50 years in prison.  

“Anthony Bottom is neither a victim nor a political prisoner,” Monroe County Legislator Jackie Smith stated. “He cruelly took the lives of Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones and is now looking to benefit from this. Trying to talk a message of victimhood.”  

Because of those killings, Brockport residents and their elected leaders argue this kind of promotion and payment to Muntaqim cannot be shielded by the first amendment. And fear of the example given to students and their children.  

“This isn’t about freedom of speech,” Town of Sweden Supervisor Kevin Johnson said. “This man has the right to say whatever he wants to whoever he wants. But when you give him a platform, when you elevate him and force students into his class to listen to this is when you have gone a step too far.”  

Demonstrators gathered outside this event rallying behind elected leaders to express their support for the police. Meanwhile, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education supports allowing Jalil Muntaqim to speak sent us a statement explaining gatherings like these allow robust debate for tough questions to be answered and the University should not give in to outside hecklers.  

Jalil Muntaqim is scheduled to hold his speech and seminar over zoom at SUNY Brockport Wednesday, April 6. Currently, all Brockport students and staff are open to register for a spot.

Members of the public can join if there’s extra space beginning April 5. at 5:00 p.m.