Yale Drops Case Against Worker Who Smashed Window Depicting Slaves

Zoe Greenberg, New York Times, July 12, 2016

As Yale continues to debate the legacy of John C. Calhoun, an alumnus and leading 19thcentury politician and slaveholder for whom one of its residential colleges is named, the university said on Tuesday that it would not press charges in the case of a black dining hall worker who smashed a stained-glass panel depicting slaves carrying cotton.

The Yale police initially arrested the worker, Corey Menafee, 38, after he climbed on top of a table in the Calhoun College dining hall and smashed the window, one of several related to Calhoun and to slavery, with a broom handle.

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“No employee should be subject to coming to work and seeing slave portraits on a daily basis,” Mr. Menafee told a police officer, according to the Yale Police Department’s incident report.

Mr. Menafee had worked at the university for about eight years and began working in Calhoun last December. Both of his managers told officers that he was a “very good employee.” He was charged with a misdemeanor for reckless endangerment in the second degree and a felony for criminal mischief in the first degree.

Thomas Conroy, a spokesman for Yale, said Mr. Menafee apologized and resigned after the episode.

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Approximately 40 supporters, including Yale students and faculty members and community leaders, filed into the courtroom behind Mr. Menafee.

“Yale has to decide which is more valuable: a stained-glass window, or the dignity and humanity of the black people who live and work at Yale,” said Megan Fountain, an alumna and volunteer with the activist group Unidad Latina en Accion, which helped organize the rally.

Yale said in a statement on Tuesday that it had requested that the state’s attorney not press charges, and that the university would not be seeking restitution for the broken window. {snip}

Yale also noted that after Mr. Menafee broke the window, a committee recommended that several windows related to slavery be removed and “conserved for future study and a possible contextual exhibition.”

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