Attica a Movie Based on Prison Riots

Stanley Nelson’s documentary “Attica” is a poignant and infuriating look at racism and mis-word of power by people who others consider inhuman. His theme is the riot that began on September 9, 1971 in the Attica correctional facility. More than 30 cage staff members have been taken hostage during the largest cage riot in American history. Having temporarily gained the upper hand, the delinquent in Attica — mainly blacks and Latinos, but also whites – tried to negotiate for better conditions. They brought with them a whole bunch of outside personalities, including senators, lawyers, journalists and even Russell Oswald, the New York correctional officer. Instead of reaching a peaceful conclusion, however, the squalor ended five days after in a rain of bullets that took hostages and inmates.

To say that Nelson’s film is fit for purpose would completely negate the idea that very few things have changed. Many details seem so familiar that they feel up to date. Open the newspaper here in New York and you will read story after story on Rikers Island and how poorly it is managed. Cage reform is a constant topic these days, as is the issue of suburban policemen who have nothing in common with the urban rhythms or the people they patrol. In the matter of Attica in New York, it had been a city Cage since the 1930s. All his employees were local residents, and their inmates quite often came from the districts of a city that is 250 miles away. “They could also have been aliens,” is how a talking head describes this difference. Attorney Joe Heath is more open: “There was this culture surprise. All white guards and a population of delinquent that was 70% to 80% black and brown.”

We hear a lot from the surviving delinquent, but this is not a one-sided affair. There are also interviews with residents and relatives of correctional officers. Editor-in-chief Aljernon Tunsil masterfully collects a huge amount of awesome pictures that are rarely seen from inside and outside the cage, some too brutal to witness. And as he did in “the Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” Nelson shows that those who legitimately seek justice can sometimes be their worst enemies. This makes her fall as complicated as it is tragic. The only thing that this film considers indisputable is that the men of Attica, regardless of their punishments, deserved to be treated with humanity. “Even when we are in cage, we are human beings,” says Arthur Harrison, sharing a sentiment that has been echoed time and time again by respondents.

“Something would always happen,” says George Che Nieves, one of the many former delinquent Nelson interviewed. “The [cage population] was tired. Tired of lies, promises.”Long before September 9, he was preceded by the frightening reputation of the institution. “Attica was known as ‘the Last Place’, the strictest cage in the state of New York,” explains former inmate Tyrone Larkins. When you were there, you knew you weren’t going to the club. As several respondents emphasize, there is a high probability that they will be imprisoned for very serious, possibly psychopathic crimes.

You wouldn’t expect creature comforts in a maximum security cage, but the promises Che Nieves pointed out were necessities like toothpaste, soap and enough toilet paper, not to mention bedding and work toilets. It was a problem for everyone, although Al Victory emphasizes that as a white delinquent he was able to draw a little better treatment and resources from the guards. It is indicative when the list of requests from L. D is read. Barkley, the man whom the delinquent have chosen to be their spokesmen, most of them were brought in as reasonable by the “Council of Observers” negotiating from the outside. There was a general consensus among all inmates, regardless of their race.

This council of observation consisted of a group of persons sympathetic to the causes of the delinquent. It consisted of Senator John Donne, president of the Committee of delinquent, Clarence Jones, the editor of the Amsterdam News and William Kuntsler, lawyer, played by Mark Rylance in “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”When the delinquent saw John Johnson, a black journalist I grew up on WABC, they also invited him. Johnson is one of the most important talking heads here. “I thought this would be negotiated for a decent humanitarian purpose,” he said of the proceedings. Most of the people involved in the interior thought the same.

But there was a big difference in perception based on where they were. “Attica” creates tension by juxtaposing the negotiation process with the increasingly restless police and the relatives of the hostages waiting outside the walls of this huge facility. If, as we were told, the guards thought the black and brown delinquent were subhuman, then one can only imagine what they thought about their new empowerment. Even if they did not know the result, the rhythm scenes, the armed men would assure them that it would not end well. Especially after William Quinn, the guard whose brutal and overwhelming beating gave the delinquent the full execution of the Attica cage, dies on the fourth day of the impasse. As a result, the delinquent lost most of their bargaining power. The governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, has decided to allow law enforcement agencies to recapture the cage.

We now know that on September 13, 1971, 29 delinquent and 10 hostages were finished when the police and the National Guard suppressed the uprising. All of these people were finished by law enforcement, tells us a disturbing ending title. Using extremely graphic images of police surveillance, Nelson shows how terrible these events were. You can hear the ads sounding on the handover to the police as gunshots decrease the people running to do it. There were racist insults and torment of surviving delinquent; we have not been spared by the revenge actions of law enforcement agencies, which would eventually cost the state of New York million in colonies for the surviving delinquent, the hostages and the families of the expired hostages. The images and consequences are so disturbing that I could hardly see them. One wonders who the worst delinquent is.

Rockefeller, whose presidential aspirations led him only to the vice presidency, is on the phone with Richard M. Nixon after the restoration of the “order”. The soon-to-be disgraced president asks if all the dead delinquent were black and hints that it’s great if they are. Fortunately, Nixon does not receive the last words in ” Attica.”These go to two people: Dee Quinn, daughter of the expired Guardian, who says of the scheme” what does the money do if you don’t have your father? It was the way of the state to say that they will give you this money and that you should leave.”And to Clarence Jones, who says “”it didn’t have to be done that way. I will never, never, never, never, never forget Attica.”After watching this documentary, neither will you.

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