“We have set forth demands that will bring closer to reality the demise of these prisons, institutions that serve no useful purpose to the People of America but to those who would enslave and exploit the People of America.” From the Attica Prisoners’ Demands, September 9, 1971. For a list of the full demands, click here.
On September 13, 1971, an uprising by prison inmates of the Attica Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison located in western New York, ended in the bloodiest prison confrontation in United States history. Five days earlier, thirteen hundred prisoners had rebelled, taken over the prison, and held forty guards hostage. Issuing a list of demands—including calls for improvements in living conditions and medical care, religious freedom, and educational and training opportunities—they entered into negotiations with state officials. The negotiations failed and state police and corrections officers seized the prison; in the course of taking it over they slaughtered thirty-nine individuals, including ten hostages.
The rebellion may have brought awareness to prison conditions, but how far have we really come in four decades? Our prison population has grown from about 300,000 in 1970 to more than 2.4 million today. The majority of young black men in major U.S. cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Join us in remembering the Attica Rebellion, honoring those who died during the retaking of the facility, and fighting back against mass incarceration and the racial caste system that our legal system causes.
Attica is all of us.