[Blackstudies-l] Attica Prison Uprising events on September 11

Justin Behrend behrend at geneseo.edu
Thu Sep 7 19:09:42 EDT 2017

Dear Campus Community,

The History Department and Black Studies Program wish to invite you to two
important events Monday, Sept. 11:

   1. *A screening of "Criminal Injustice: Death and Politics at Attica"
   (2012) at 3:30 pm in Newton 201.* This is an Emmy Award-winning
   documentary on the Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its legacy. It will
   be followed by a Q&A session with one of its producers, Chris Christopher.
   Several of the people who appear in “Criminal Injustice” will speak at a
   panel later in the evening.
   2. *Attica Uprising Panel Discussion at 7:00 pm in the College Union
   Ballroom.* Panelists will include: Michael Smith (former corrections
   officer and hostage), Dee Quinn Miller (whose father was killed in the
   retaking and led Forgotten Victims of Attica), Gary Craig (D&C reporter who
   has covered the story since the federal court action that settled the
   inmates case), Ellen Yacknin (judge and civil legal team attorney), Joe
   Heath (civil and Indigenous rights lawyer and attorney for Attica inmates),
   Malcolm Bell (a special prosecutor who investigated the police response to
   Attica), and Chris Christopher.

These events are part of a series focusing on the Attica Prison Uprising of
1971. On Wednesday Sept. 13, Pulitzer Prize winning historian Heather
Thompson will speak on "The Attica Prison Uprising and Why It Matters
Today," and on Sept. 20, Joe Heath will speak on "Attica 46 Years Later:
The Cover-Ups Continue." More details will follow.

On Sept. 9, 1971, almost 1300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional
Facility and held guards and civilian employees hostage. Protesting
conditions and demanding reforms, the prisoners worked with observers to
secure changes. Instead, on September 13, heavily armed state troopers and
correctional officers retook the prison, killing 39 men (both hostages and
prisoners) and wounding more than 100 others. These events were devastating
for hostages, prisoners, and their family members. They were also very
significant in both the larger prison reform movement and the broad trend
toward mass incarceration that has created the crisis situation we face
today. Despite legal settlements between the state of New York and both
prisoners (or their surviving families) and hostages (or their surviving
families), and numerous fact finding commissions, too much of the full
story of Attica has been distorted, suppressed, and obscured from both the
public and those most closely involved or impacted. In the days, weeks,
months, and years following the uprising and retaking of Attica, survivors,
family members, activists, attorneys, journalists, historians, and
documentary filmmakers have all struggled to document and bring this story
to light and to achieve some measure of justice.

Geneseo is very pleased to be hosting a number of people directly involved
in the Attica Uprising and subsequent events, as well as those who have
made important contributions to researching and telling the story. Please
join us for these events about the Attica Uprising, its legacy, and its
relationship to mass incarceration today.

All the best,
Justin Behrend, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Department Chair, History
SUNY Geneseo

Author, *Reconstructing Democracy: Grassroots Black Politics in the Deep
South after the Civil War*
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