Thursday, December 12, 2013

Greff Fabrics Blues, 1971 (v)

In September 1971, prisoners in Attica State Prison in Upstate New York revolted in response to both George Jackson's assassination in California and to protest against the oppressive treatment of prisoners in New York State and by its Attica State Prison administration and warden. A list of demands were drawn up, some Attica prison guards were seized and certain sections of the Attica State prison were liberated in ways similar to how Columbia and Barnard anti-war and anti-racist students had liberated five Columbia University buildings in April 1968. And, like at Columbia, when the local administration couldn't persuade the protesters to give up their demand for amnesty during negotiations with intermediaries, the decision was made to use physical force to end the protest. Only with respect to suppressing the protests by the Attica prisoners in September 1971--unlike at Columbia--the level of physical force that was used was live bullets and tear gas, rather than just the billy clubs and blackjacks that were used on Columbia's campus in late April and May of 1968.

As a result, at least 29 prisoners and 10 prison guards were killed by the bullets of the state troopers that then-New York Governor Nelson Rockefller had ordered in to reestablish state government control of the prison and crush the 4-day prison revolt, in what became known as "The Attica Massacre." To express my outrage at Billionaire Rockefeller's brutal action, a few days later I wrote a protest folk song, titled "The Battle of Attica," which began with the lyrics, "Let me tell you, my friend about the Battle of Attica."