Attica Prison Uprising With Audio from a Governor and U.S. President

Inmates at the Attica state prison in western New York State surrendered after a raid, September 13, 1971. Photo Courtesy of United Press International.

Forty years ago today marked a dark period in New York State’s history.  On September 13, 1971, 1000 New York State Troopers, sheriff’s deputies and correction officers stormed Attica prison to end a four-day uprising.  Twenty-nine inmates and 10 hostages, some of them guards, were killed.

The revolt began because of inmate complaints about grievance procedures, educational opportunities and other issues.  The inmates were voicing their complaints but no one was listening.  Then the trouble began.

The inmates demanded to see then Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, but he refused.

Instead, the governor approved the assault when negotiations stalled and he was trying to protect the lives of the guards.

After the raid ended, Gov. Rockefeller phoned then President Richard Nixon to claim victory.  This article included the audio of their conversations.  This audio really brought a different angle to the article.  Hearing two very powerful people discuss something so raw, I’m sure angered family members of both the inmates and hostages.

You can listen to Gov. Rockefeller boasting about his victory and President Nixon backing his decisions.

To hear the conversations between Gov. Rockefeller and President Nixon, click here and the audio is on the left side of the screen.

In the end, 62 inmates and one guard were charged with crimes from the revolt.  Eight inmates were convicted.  Charges against the guard were dropped.

The governor was criticized for not going to Attica.  He was the only one with a chance to stop this violence.  The inmates were tired and wanted him to know what was happening in their “home.”   It was determined that the riots were driven by black inmates who were tired of racist treatment and humiliations.   They wanted to share this with the governor in person.

In 1976, under a new administration, seven former Attica inmates were pardoned, the sentence of an eighth was commuted and no disciplinary action was taken against 20 state troopers and guards involved in the assault.

Inmates who were beaten sued the state, which settled in 2000 for $8 million. Five years later, the state settled for $12 million with surviving guards and the families of slain hostages.

Overall, I thought the audio from the 1970’s brightened this article very well and made it come to life.

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Posted on September 13, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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