BROCKPORT, NY (PIX11) — The State University of New York’s College at Brockport refused Thursday to cancel an April 6 event featuring Jalil Muntaqim, the former Black Panther who spent nearly 50 years in prison for executing two NYPD police officers in 1971.

Yet under pressure from the New York State law enforcement community–and some in the college community–SUNY Brockport pulled funding to pay for the speech and the gathering, which spawned outrage when Muntaqim–formerly known as Anthony Bottom–was referred to as a “political prisoner.”

Damita Davis, chief diversity officer at SUNY Brockport, said “…the committee has rescinded the grant and no funding will be used to pay the speaker. We are not, however, canceling the event. Academic freedom allows our faculty to invite guests of their choosing to campus to address our students.”

Assistant Professor Rafael Outland had applied for the grant for an event called, “History of Black Resistance, U.S. Political Prisoners and Genocide: A Conversation with Jalil Muntaqim.”

Muntaqim, now 70, was quietly paroled in October 2020, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, after spending 49 years behind bars. Muntaqim was 19 when he arrived in New York with two fellow members of the Black Liberation Army in 1971, intent on killing police officers as part of their revolution. 

On May 21, 1971, two police officers–one Black, the other White–responded to a phony 911 call at the Colonial Park Houses at East 159th Street and Harlem River Drive. Prosecutors later said that Muntaqim, then known as Anthony Bottom, ambushed the officers from behind, shooting Waverly Jones, the Black cop, in the head and down his spine.  

Diane Piagentini, the widow of Officer Joseph Piagentini, wrote to SUNY Brockport to remind the college president what happened to her husband.

“While my husband lay on the ground pleading with them not to kill him, pleading he had a wife and children,” Mrs. Piagentini said in her letter,  “Bottom took his service revolver and emptied it into his body.  There were 22 bullet holes in his body.”

PIX11 News obtained parole hearing documents in 2020, shortly after Jalil Muntaqim was released, where he told commissioners that he’d been traumatized as an 8 year old by the police murder of a beloved uncle in California.

“I was a troubled child,” Muntaqim said in 2020. “What I can recollect is that, at the age of 8, one of my favorite uncles was murdered by police. Shortly after, my great-grandmother–his mother–died as a result of what we felt was a broken heart.”

The parole hearing in September 2020 contained a transcript that was 100-pages long.  

When a commissioner asked him at the hearing how old he was when the police assassinations took place in 1971, Muntaqim replied, “Nineteen. Nineteen years of age, and stupid.  Nineteen and dumb.”

Muntaqim had been rejected for parole 13 times and told the commissioners he’d finally gone to therapy in prison, “dealing with the fact that I killed two people.”

He added, “And having to accept that, killing those two police officers, was something I had blocked over the years trying to rationalize it and justify it in some kind of way.”

“It was screwed up thinking at the time,” Muntaqim said in 2020.  “We thought we were defending the Black community.  We thought at some point in time the Black community would rally to our cause.”

Bottom had actually mailed the NYPD murder weapon to California in 1971 after the Jones/Piagentini shooting and returned to his home state before his arrest in August 1971.

When Bottom was asked how he felt about law enforcement in 2020, he replied to the Parole Board, “I believe law enforcement has a very important role to play in society at large.  I think they have a duty as civilians who take this oath to serve and protect,  I did not understand that as a 19-year-old.”