BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — Former Gates Police Chief James Vanbrederode, now running for State Senate, says Jalil Muntaqim, formally known as Anthony Bottom, coming to speak to students at Brockport, hits a nerve.
“I think a lot of us are disappointed because a lot of us are alumni of SUNY Brockport,” he said.
In 1971, Bottom ambushed and gunned down two New York City police officers, shooting them dozens of times. Vanbrederode says the violence in Rochester is out of control. To highlight Bottom at such a time, or any time, is inappropriate.
“This was just a slap in the face to all of our families who have lost a loved one to the violence,” he said.
A crowd gathered around Vanbrederode Thursday night, about 30 people. The former police chief said even though Brockport will not be paying Bottom for his visit, it doesn’t lessen the impact this will have.
“The money isn’t really the issue,” Vanbrederode said. “The issue is, there’s gotta be somebody else in the Black community that you could have used as a role model and come here.”
In a statement from the ‘Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’, or FIRE, the group said, “Even amidst pressure from elected officials to disinvite Muntaqim, SUNY Brockport must stand firm in its decision to allow the speaking appearance to continue as planned. It is the university’s responsibility to place its First Amendment obligations above the calls of detractors, regardless of the level of controversy or the volume of calls for censorship.”
Some are attempting to keep the talk with Bottom in place.
Vanbrederode says frankly, Bottom should still be locked up. “I mean, what’s the body count have to be before it’s life in prison?”
Co-Executive Director of Citizen Action of News York, Rosemary Rivera released a statement on the response on the upcoming talk.
“Everyone deserves to be safe in their communities. Yet we live in a world where mass incarceration, driven by racism, has destroyed countless lives and families. Citizen Action of New York believes that once someone has done their time they should have a clean slate as they move forward and are integrated into society.
We are incredibly disappointed by the frenzy that is being manufactured because our Special Projects Coordinator, Jalil Muntaqim, is speaking about his experience. We stand by Jail and who he is today. His current work and perspective is important – talking about the history of Black resistance at a time when Black men had to hold a placard to proclaim “I am a man.” Jalil Muntaqim has spent years studying the plight of society and the harm caused by white supremacy. The frenzy around Jalil’s talk is exactly the kind of fear mongering that increases the potential for violence and is a perfect example of the flawed retribution-not-restoration mentality of too many in our society.
We stand with the SUNY Brockport as they hold strong in their commitment to free speech and intellectual discussion.”