Resignation, protests at SUNY Brockport ahead of cop-killer's speaking event

Daniel Varrenti, a former police chief, is resigning his adjunct professor position at the university in protest of Jalil Muntaqim's invitation to speak.

Dozens of concerned citizens as well as former and current members of law enforcement peacefully gathered on campus in front of the SUNY Brockport President’s House on March 21 to protest the event.

SUNY Brockport is hosting Jalil Muntaqim for an Apr. 6 event that characterizes the man who served nearly 50 years in jail for killing two police officers as a “political prisoner.” Now, Daniel Varrenti, a former police chief, is resigning his adjunct professor position in protest of Muntaqim’s invitation to speak. 

News of Varrenti’s resignation broke just days after the Western New York university decided to move the in-person talk to an online forum because the event “elicited strong feedback, divergent opinions, and has already spurred protests.”

Campus Reform obtained the Mar. 23 email sent by SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson.

This change comes after dozens of concerned citizens as well as former and current members of law enforcement peacefully gathered on campus in front of the SUNY Brockport President’s House on March 21 to protest the university’s recent decision to bring a convicted cop killer to speak on campus.

Campus Reform was on the ground as the event unfolded.

The protest organizer, Cherie Stuhler, a SUNY Brockport alumnus who has worked with police advocacy group True Blue for two years told Campus Reform, “This man was not a political prisoner, but rather a murderer who has shown no remorse, or wanting to give back to society.”

She continued, “Why do we continue to place criminals upon a pedestal? Why do we continue to only hear one side of a story? I ask why we are not hearing from the victims’ families, their wives and children?”

Stuhler estimated that 50 protesters showed up to the demonstration, citing individuals that represent Roanoke Law Enforcement, RPD, Gates-Chili PD, Concerned Citizens Alliance, and True Blue NY.

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Former Gates-Chili police chief and current New York State Senate candidate Jim VanBredore was also in attendance, as well as Marcus C. Williams, a candidate for New York State Assembly.

VanBredore told Campus Reform that the school displayed “no compassion” in having Muntaqim speak on campus and labeled the event “insensitive” given the increase in violent crime and homicides in the area this year.

He said that the school was “lying through omission” by labeling Mutaqim a “political prisoner” and leaving out his history of murdering two police officers.

“I believe this was intentionally done to raise people’s eyebrows and cause confrontation with the community. They brought this guy in to get the shock and awe and create a lot of controversy and division,” he continued.

SUNY Brockport’s Director of Communications John Follaco told Campus ReformI’m referring all media to our website for information related to this event.”

VanBredore charged that university officials have “no courage” as they have not been responsive to media to “defend their position.” 

“That is a lack of courage, lack of leadership,” he said.

”I went to college 30 years ago. They never pushed their political views on us. I mean, really, that didn’t ever happen. That’s crossing the line,” he concluded.

Williams told Campus Reform, “I take serious issue with clear misrepresentation of indisputable facts that transcend bias. The event originally billed the speaker as a ‘political prisoner.’ He was no political prisoner. He committed premeditated murder. What’s worse is he also planted a fake 911 call in order to do so.”

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“The school has a history of creating difficulties for conservative speakers to come to the school,” he continued. “If everything is supposed to be equal, they should give conservatives and moderates the same time and equal treatment that they do liberals and extremists.”

Multiple witnesses reported to Campus Reform that protesters were mostly met with support from beeping cars, however, one woman was heard screaming “F*ck the police” at the demonstrators as she flashed obscene gestures.

In 1971, Jalil Muntaqim, formerly known as Anthony Bottom, made a fake 911 call to lure in the police and then proceeded to shoot the two responding officers to death. He killed Waverly Jones with one bullet but shot Joe Piagentini 22 times as the officer begged for his life.

When previously asked why he killed Jones, a black cop, Muntaqim reportedly responded, “a pig is a pig,” according to a letter to the school imploring them to cancel the event, written by Piagentini’s widow, Diane.

Muntaqim was involved with the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, and co-founded the Jericho Movement, a group dedicated to the idea that members of militant groups who committed acts of violence against the police were “incarcerated because of their political beliefs and acts in support of and/or in defense of freedom.”

The event will be hosted by assistant professor Rafael Outland, who received his PhD in Counseling and Counselor Education and has written about “the effects of bullying among adolescents” as well as “the effects of media violence on the aggression level of adolescents.”

Campus Reform has reached out to SUNY Brockport and Rafael Outland for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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