SUNY Brockport says large numbers of police being on campus is 'traumatizing,' lets students skip class

After Fox News Digital reached out to the university for comment, it announced that the event will be held virtually

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The State University of New York at Brockport said in a statement that the possibility of "large numbers" of police officers on-campus during an event featuring a convicted cop killer could be "traumatizing," and is allowing students to skip class during the day of the event.

Fox News Digital reported earlier in March that SUNY Brockport is hosting "History of Black Resistance, U.S. Political Prisoners & Genocide: A Conversation with Jalil Muntaqim." The event is scheduled to take place April 6.

Muntaqim, who was previously named Anthony Bottom, was part of a Black Liberation Army radicals group who conducted the assassination of two New York City police officers Waverly Jones and Joseph A. Piagentini in 1971.

Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at SUNY Brockport Linda Delene wrote in a March 22 announcement that the large number of police officers on-campus during the event may be "traumatizing" to some students, and said that they can choose to not attend classes.

SUNY BROCKPORT SET TO HONOR CONVICTED COP KILLER AT EVENT FOR 'BLACK RESISTANCE' AND 'POLITICAL PRISONERS'

Convicted cop killer for 1971 assassination of 2 NYPD officers, paroled by Cuomo's parole board in 2020

Convicted cop killer for 1971 assassination of 2 NYPD officers, paroled by Cuomo's parole board in 2020 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckSUentFXmQ&t=475s)

"For some students, if the event proceeds in person, the possible advent of large numbers of police on campus may be another traumatizing event. Further, some students may choose to not attend classes due to personal safety concerns on April 6, 2022," the statement reads. "Our attendance policy includes the phrase ‘other circumstances beyond the control of the student’ which will be accepted in this particular situation."

After Fox News Digital reached out to the university for comment, SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson released a statement saying that the event has been moved to a virtual format. 

A spokesperson for SUNY Brockport did not clarify whether the university expected the "large numbers" of police officers to be on-campus as a safety measure or to protest the event.

"We are grateful for the various law enforcement agencies and partners who will be supporting the safety of our campus during the upcoming days and weeks," the spokesperson said.

Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, a spokesperson for the National Police Association, told Fox News that the university's action is an example of the "misplaced vilification" of police officers.

"This is again the misplaced vilification of American law enforcement," Smith said. "Let's talk about New York specifically. I think we've learned by now that police are not the problem."

"Vilifying them, and creating this atmosphere of ‘de-policing,’ Smith said, "that has led to this huge crime spike in New York, as it has around the nation, and for some unknown reason, SUNY is going to double and triple down on this anti-cop narrative."

NEW YORK PRISON GIVES CORONAVIRUS VACCINE TO DEMOCRATIC SAN FRANCISCO DA'S CONVICTED MURDERER FATHER

2 NYPD officers assassinated by Anthony Bottoms in 1971

2 NYPD officers assassinated by Anthony Bottoms in 1971 (https://www.odmp.org/officer/7273-patrolman-waverly-m-jones https://www.odmp.org/officer/10661-patrolman-joseph-a-piagentini)

The event was originally funded through a grant for "Promoting Excellence in Diversity," but SUNY Brockport announced on March 16 that the grant was rescinded, and said in a statement that no university funding would be used for the event. 

A follow-up statement on March 22 from Delene said that an anonymous donor is covering the speaker’s fee for Muntaqim.

The description for the event describes Muntaqim as a "political prisoner," but is followed by an "editors note" which reads "SUNY Brockport does not endorse the characterization of this event." It does not mention that he was convicted in two murders.

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The State University of New York at Brockport said in a statement that the possibility of "large numbers" of police officers on-campus during an event featuring a convicted cop killer could be "traumatizing," and is allowing students to skip class during the day of the event.

The State University of New York at Brockport said in a statement that the possibility of "large numbers" of police officers on-campus during an event featuring a convicted cop killer could be "traumatizing," and is allowing students to skip class during the day of the event. (SUNY Brockport)

Macpherson said in a previous statement that the university doesn't support Muntaqim’s actions, but believes in freedom of speech.

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 said. "However, we believe in freedom of speech."

Fox News' Michael Ruiz contributed to this report