The Attica Prison Rebellion

by Kareema Amin

We remember and we will never forget.

Every year in September, PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO takes time to remember what is often described as “the bloodiest prison riot in United States history.” I don’t like using the word riot as it seems to describe something that is disorganized” or “spur of the moment.” I prefer rebellion, revolt or uprising.

These prisoners were organized and clear about their demands for better living conditions and political rights. For several months, they had used the so-called proper channels to make their grievances and demands known.

They were ignored.

 In the past, we have had guest speakers, some who were at Attica in 1971. We have shown films, some documentaries and some Hollywood products. In 2011 we hosted a panel discussion at a local church. In the following year, a small group, members of PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO and THE WESTERN NY PEACE CENTER, walked to Attica, concluding with a prayer vigil to remember the slain prisoners who were murdered by the State in this conflict.

Last year Brother Lion Blyden was our guest speaker.

He is the son ofHerbert X Blyden. When Herbert X died in 1997, the New York Times described him as “… the jail-hardened, prison-educated civil rights activist who gave eloquent voice to 1,200 beleaguered inmates as their chief negotiator during the 1971 Attica prison uprising…” Lion’s presentation gave us a glimpse into what it was like being raised by someone so politically astute and attuned to prisoner justice advocacy.

On Monday, September 30, at our regular public monthly meeting, we’ll be showing a film about Attica, New York’s best known maximum security prison. Plan to attend this meeting.

The Attica story is an important one. The film we are screening and the discussion afterwards are very likely to teach you something that you didn’t know before. How does what happened at Attica in 1971, connect with what’s happening in prisons today? We will be meeting at the CAO Rafi Green Masten Resource Center, 1423 Fillmore Avenue @ Glenwood, 7:00-9:00pm. You are invited.

Attica is all of us.

For more information: Karima, karimatells@yahoo.com; BaBa, 716-491-5319.