A black dishwasher at Yale University lost his job after breaking a stained-glass window in a dining hall that depicted slaves picking cotton, the New Haven Independent reported Monday.
Corey Menafee, 38, told the newspaper that he broke the “racist, very degrading” image with a broom handle in a frustrated outburst on June 13.
Menafee was arrested by New Haven police and now faces a felony charge. Yale Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor told the Independent that Menafee apologized and voluntarily resigned his post after the incident, which caused glass to fall on a female passerby walking next to the window. O’Connor said that the university won’t seek prosecution or restitution.
The pane in question decorated the dining hall at Calhoun College, named for alum and pro-slavery former Vice President John C. Calhoun. The university in April announced that the college’s name would be preserved despite a year-long protest by students and faculty to change it and to remove the slavery-themed paintings and stained-glass panes scattered throughout the college. University officials announced last week that some panes depicting scenes from Calhoun’s life would be taken down.
Menafee told the Independent that he decided to knock the panel down on a random impulse and was not motivated by the name-changing campaign.
“I took a broomstick, and it was kind of high, and I climbed up and reached up and broke it,” he told the newspaper. “It’s 2016, I shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that.”
“I just said, ‘That thing’s coming down today. I’m tired of it,’” he added. “I put myself in a position to do it, and did it.”
According to the newspaper, Manafee faces a second-degree misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment and a first-degree felony charge of criminal mischief. He is set to appear in court on Tuesday.