These Prisoners' Demands For Human Rights Ended In A Massacre

Attica Correctional Facility
Zain Murdock
August 12, 2021

Brutality had been brewing in Attica Prison for months, until violence boiled to the surface on September 9, 1971 and the prison became the site of a massive revolt. 

Inmates, done with the abuse and neglect, started by overpowering guards and locking them up in their own cells. But it escalated from there.

1,200 men, many of them Black political prisoners, congregated in the yard with their hostages to draft their demands. They wanted basic human rights, from minimum wage to medical treatment and rehabilitation. 

But the governor and commissioner never negotiated their demands in full. Instead, things got bloody.

On September 13, thousands of troops arrived at the scene. Helicopters swarmed, releasing tear gas. They made an example out of hundreds of prisoners by shooting and viciously torturing them in the halls. They killed 29 prisoners and nine guards in 15 minutes – then blamed the revolutionaries for the deaths!

After the uprising President Nixon, the governor of New York, and other officials celebrated. “You know what stops [radicals]?” Nixon told his chief of staff. “Kill a few.”

Our people have always fought back to end oppression. Some of these courageous attempts ended in tragedy. But like Attica's rebels, we too have the power to challenge the systems that oppress us – and we should, by any means necessary.

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