Sunday, September 4, 2016

Attica, Attica - the story of the legendary prison uprising// NY Times

"We are men, not beasts and we do not intend to be driven as such". L.D. Barkley, Attica Prison, 1971 The criminals proved that it was they, not the Governor, not the policemen charged with keeping the peace, who were the peacemakers. One guard - William Quinn - was murdered and 39 prisoners when the prison was retaken by state troopers and guards. Then the coverup started. It hasn't ended.- gwc

The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy
By Heather Ann Thompson
Illustrated. 724 pp. Pantheon Books. $35.
Reviewed by James Forman, Jr.(Yale history prof and son of a leader of SNCC - the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee)
Attica. The name itself has long signified resistance to prison abuse and state violence. ...Blood in the Water” comes out at an important time. Criminal justice reform is having something of a moment. But Thompson’s tale is a cautionary reminder that we’ve been here before. The Attica uprising took place in the midst of an earlier period of activism, and had the potential to be a turning point toward better prison conditions. When these mostly black and brown men took over the yard and asked for things like better education, the state could have recognized the legitimacy of their demands. Instead they were slaughtered, the crime was concealed, and in the decades since, America has shown little regard for prisoner welfare.
But Attica’s tragic outcome doesn’t undermine the significance of the resistance. As Thompson argues: “The Attica uprising of 1971 happened because ordinary men, poor men, disenfranchised men, and men of color had simply had enough of being treated as less than human. That desire, and their fight, is by far Attica’s most important legacy.” Just so, and “Blood in the Water” restores their struggle to its rightful place in our collective memory.

1 comment:

  1. Ten of those killed were not prisoners but hostages (and their deaths too were at the hands of correction officers and state troopers).