1971 September 9

Attica Prison Rebellion Begins


Prisoners in the New York State Attica Correctional Facility began a rebellion on this day, with about 1,000 prisoners seizing 42 prison employees as hostages. The prisoners’ grievances included many items of basic human decency: an end to serious overcrowding (the prison was built to hold 1,200 inmates but then held 2,225); being allowed only one shower per week; one roll of toilet paper per person per month. After four days of negotiation, New York officials had agreed to 28 of the inmates’ 42 demands, but refused to grant amnesty to the rebelling prisoners.

Finally, on orders from Governor Nelson Rockefeller, the rebellion was violently ended by armed state police officers. Twenty-nine prisoners and 10 guards were killed in the raid. The Attica rebellion remains one of the worst prison riots in American history.

Read the new book on the Attica tragedy: Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water (2016)

Learn about the Attica rebellion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBG1UkxrMG0

Former Attica inmates recall the rebellion:

Read: Tom Wicker, A Time to Die: The Attica Prison Revolt (1975)

Learn more about the Attica Rebellion: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/attica-prison-riot-1971

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