By Jovani Figueroa
The quiet town of Brockport is finally winding down after weeks of controversy surrounding the guest speaker Jalil Muntaqim who was invited by a faculty member. On Holley street, many Brockport residents have protested every other day against allowing Muntaqim to speak to students. On the other hand, students hosted a counter-protest right across the street showing support for Muntaqim.
Muntaqim spent 49 years in jail for the murder of two police officers in 1971 he was released for parole in October of 2020. He committed this crime when he was 19 and a member of the Black Panther party. Many people have been upset about his parole such as the New York police union, the widow of one of the officers, and even the Monroe County Legislator Jackie Smith. But now that he has spoken virtually during the webinar many students of color reacted to his lecture.
Men of Color vice president, Blake James attended the webinar and had this to say about Muntaqim’s lecture.
“When he was speaking he didn’t even talk about violence he started talking about the ideology of the Black Panther party and how they were around to police the police and the work that he did in the prison system as an inmate” James said.
The lecture covered multiple topics such as talking about the controversy around the event, prison reform, political prisoners, Black Panther party ideology, and the racial climate in America. Muntaqim speaks about why he calls himself a political prisoner and how many inmates in the prison system are political inmates. He also talks about the racial climate that America is in and how not much has changed since he went to prison nearly 50 years ago. Talking about the deaths of black men and women that have occurred across the country by the police.
OSAD President, Nicole Johnson listened to the webinar while she was at the counter-protest students were holding on Holley street.
“ Listening to his words while I was at the protest really proved what he was saying to me because there are these blue lives matter protesters trying to get a reaction out of us by provoking us. Like they wanted to see the protest get violent and I don’t think the Blue Lives Matter protesters understand that you can take off a uniform or quit being a police officer. But you can’t quit being black in America,” said Johnson.
Due to the protest that Blue Lives Matter supporters were holding, students decided to hold a counter protest across the street from them. Many of the students were there in support of the controversial speaker and wanted to show that Blue Lives Matter protesters weren’t the only voice on campus. Students even went as far as holding up a speaker during the protest so everyone could hear Muntaqim’s lecture and the message he had for the students.
A SUNY Brockport student, Sharon Jaramillo talked about what it’s been like after the webinar and protest.
“ I think it weird that all this racial tension happened a few weeks ago and now everyone is going back to their normal lives and not talking about it. Like why are we ignoring the fact that this happened and not properly dealing with it,” said Jaramillo.
Muntaqims presence and words have sparked a strong reactions in the Brockport community and have shown a glimpse of life has been like in the past few weeks. Students and residents alike are going back to their normal daily routine now that the lecture is over. However, strong political opinions on both sides seem to be lurking waiting for the next controversial issue to arise.