The State University of New York at Brockport has invited a convicted domestic terrorist and co-founder of an antisemitic organization to be its featured speaker at an April 6th event.
Anthony Bottom, also known as Jalil Muntaqim, was a member of the Black Liberation Army (BLA), a domestic terror group that was responsible for a series of bombings and murders during the 1970s and ’80s. A 1991 Maryland State Police report said that killing police officers were among the BLA’s stated goals. Group members killed at least 15 police officers.
Piagentini’s widow, Diane, urged the parole board to keep Bottom in prison in 2019, saying he “assassinated my husband and Waverly Jones because they wore the blue uniform.”
Bottom wouldn’t dispute that. He knew nothing about his victims and wasn’t even a New York resident. He simply was out to ambush police. “It could have been any officers,” he admitted years later.
He was also held responsible for the shooting death of SFPD Sgt. John Young in August of that same year. He was sentenced to life in prison for the killings.
On Sept. 11, 2020, a New York State Parole Board appointed under then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted Bottom’s release from prison.
His upcoming appearance at SUNY-Brockport triggered a significant public backlash.
New York State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt asked university president Heidi Macpherson to rescind the invitation, calling it “absolutely shameful. Let’s be very clear: Anthony Bottom was not a ‘political prisoner.’ He’s a convicted cop-killer. Calling this an ‘intellectual conversation’ on a taxpayer-funded state campus is intellectually dishonest. It’s an insult.”
But in a public statement, Macpherson indicated she would not step in.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
Bottom’s organization also supports the BDS movement and the destruction of Israel as a nation: “Zionism is a form of white supremacy and European colonialism. ‘Israel’ was founded on Zionism and is therefore an unjust and illegitimate state.”
“We understand Zionism to be a central pillar of U.S. imperialism that has integrated itself into U.S. projects globally.”
Bottom claims he is not antisemitic yet in a 2020 essay, he describes those who believe in the ancestral home of the Jewish people as “those who wear an ethnocentric-narcissistic xenophobic (white supremacist) religio-idealist cloak.”
Macpherson said that she is aware of Bottom’s violent background; she can be contacted at president@Brockport.edu via email.