Attica rebellion commemoratedhttp://www.workers.org/2011/us/attica_0929/
When the historic rebellion at Attica Prison erupted forty years ago, many Buffalo, N.Y., activists were intensely involved with support and solidarity for the righteous demands of the prisoners, and with their long, long struggle for justice after Gov. Nelson Rockefeller ordered the State Police to massacre the uprising's participants.
Activists joined many demonstrations and courtroom shows of solidarity in Buffalo in the years following that massacre. During the recent 40th anniversary of the rebellion, activists who were incarcerated during that time joined with activists who carried on solidarity work in a series of events here. Others were drawn in by the deep history of the struggle centered here.
Sept. 9, was the anniversary of the date that the prisoners at Attica, after months of being denied a hearing for their grievances, rose up and took control of half the prison, saying, "We are men. We are not beasts, and we do not intend to be beaten and driven as such." To commemorate and honor the struggle, the Prison Action Committee, WNY Peace Center, held a pilgrimage to Attica Prison, with an early morning rally in Buffalo, before a two-day walk to Attica, ending in a rally at the prison.
The evening before, a screening of the 1974 film, "Attica," was held at Burning Books. This documentary shows how the Black, Latino and white prisoners united and became brothers, and how their demands and their unity became political, inside D Yard as well as around the world. This explains why the state was so anxious to violently and brutally crush the uprising.
On Sept. 12 and 13, panels held during a Law Center conference at the suburban campus of the University of Buffalo focused on the importance of the prisoners' reclaiming of their humanity and brotherhood. The conference focused its opening panel on the fact that the state of New York still has never apologized, now after 40 years, and that those who directed and committed the murders, the governor and the state troopers, have never been held accountable.
On the evening of Sept. 12, a community forum in the center of the Buffalo — "Mass Incarceration and Its Impact on the Community" — presented panelists from prison ministries, some former prisoners themselves. These people spoke forcefully about the bitter toll taken on the most oppressed communities as the rate of imprisonment of their people skyrockets.
Over and over it was emphasized that prisons have become a huge, profitable industry, and that reforms promised after the Attica rebellion have been wiped out. This has subjected prisoners everywhere to the same old abuses.
Panelists and a community speakout called for an unrelenting fight for justice. The program was organized and presented by Prisoners Are People Too, and had nearly a dozen university and community co-sponsors.
On the evening of Sept. 13, surviving Attica Brother Dacajeweiah — "Splitting the Sky" — spoke at a second Burning Books event. He described the violence and racism directed by the state against Native nations, and told of the many years of fightback carried on, and about the fight for justice that was the Attica rebellion, and the long fight afterwards for justice that has not yet been won.
Dacajeweiah was the only person who received a conviction after that event, despite the fact that it was really a mass execution of prisoners by police. He said, "I am not here trying to make prisons a better place to live. We need to make the world a better place to live — without greed and racism — but we have to continue always to fight against the state to win — against the torturers and war criminals — so that there will still be a world for our descendants."