Date of Incident


Wyoming County, NY Attica Massacre Victims Sept 13, 1971

Prompted by horrendous conditions, the 1281 inmates at the New York state prison in Attica took over the prison on Sept. 9, 1971 and took the guards there hostage.  One guard died died during the takeover due to his own attempt to be heroic.  The hostages were treated well and were guarded by the inmate leadership from potential assault from lone inmates.  The guard hostages were dressed in ordinary inmate clothing so that potential outside snipers would not be able to tell whom they were shooting at.  The uprising began as an unfocused riot, but grew into a focused and reasonable demand for better prison conditions.

The authorities were appalled that the uprising had attracted the attention of the national news media.  In response, the authorities cut off lines of communication from the area to give them time to create cover stories for whatever might happen.  Then they overdosed the prison with tear gas, completely incapacitating everyone inside, and rendering some unconscious.  Then to teach the inmates a lesson, 500 state policemen attacked the incapacitated occupants, firing 2200 bullets in 9 minutes.

In the attack, the authorities murdered 39 individuals including 10 prison guards who they presumably mistook to be inmates.  They also wounded at least 86 individuals.  Four others were murdered following the attack.  Mike Smith, an Attica guard who was shot in the stomach, said, "I don't know any other employer who could murder their employees and get away with it, except the government."

At the time of the attack, the news media dutifully reported official lies.  The prison guard hostages who died were reported as having had their throats slit by inmates.  However, autopsies soon revealed that no throats were slit.  Instead, the guards' bodies were riddled with bullets.  None of the inmates possessed or gained access to firearms.

The inmates who survived the massacre were beaten, burned with cigarettes, threatened with castration and death, forced to play Russian roulette, and forced to walk a glass strewn gauntlet while barefoot (actually naked) and being beaten as they walked.

None of the authorities who participated in the massacre of 43 American citizens were ever criminally charged.  New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller who ordered the attack went on to become an unelected U.S. Vice President.  A quarter century later, Attica inmates were awarded $12 million for the wrongs they suffered.  [7/05]



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