Yale University announced yesterday (July 12) that it will not pursue charges against Corey Menafee, a former employee who smashed a stained glass window in a dining hall that depicted slaves carrying cotton.
The New Haven Independent reported that Menafee worked at a dining hall in Calhoun College, one of the university’s 12 residential colleges, which takes its name from controversial alumnus and slaveholder John C. Calhoun and was at the center of controversy in April when university president Peter Salovey announced that the New Haven-based institution would not rename the college, despite student complaints. Menafee, who is Black, told the Independent that he smashed the window with a broomstick on an impulse. ”It’s 2016, I shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that,” he said.
Menafee faces misdemeanor and felony charges. Yale issued a statement yesterday saying that Menafee apologized for the mid-June action, which scattered glass onto a sidewalk near a pedestrian, and resigned from his job. The statement also said that the university will not seek restitution, and that it will implore the state’s attorney to not pursue charges. Officials also vowed to remove other panels that depict scenes from slavery at Calhoun College. “An artist specializing in stained glass will be commissioned to design new windows, with input from the Yale community, including students, on what should replace them,” read the statement.
The New York Times reported that Yale’s wish did not reach the state’s attorney office until after a hearing at the New Haven Superior Court building yesterday. David Strollo, a supervisory state’s attorney, told the Times that the charges against Menafee, including misdemeanor reckless endangerment and felony criminal mischief, will likely be dismissed at another hearing on July 26.
Patricia Kane, Menefee’s attorney, told reporters gathered after the hearing that he wishes to get his job back. ”He really must have gone in day after day and seen these slaves with bales of cotton,” she said. “One day he just decided to rise up and make his statement.”