A new documentary on the Attica prison riot raises doubts about whether a prominent inmate was accidentally killed in the retaking, as the official version of the uprising has long maintained.
The hour long film, Criminal Injustice: Death and Politics at Attica, also zeroes in on the national political atmosphere at the time of the 1971 riot. The Nixon White House, the film implies, may well have been more cognizant of the retaking plans at Attica than history has thus far indicated.
Records discovered by the filmmakers show that Gov. Nelson Rockefeller unsuccessfully tried to call President Richard Nixon about a half hour before the Sept. 13, 1971, retaking of the prison.
Attica stands as the nation's deadliest prison riot, with 43 killed. Of those, 29 inmates and 10 hostages were fatally shot during the retaking.
The product of the Rochester, N.Y.-based film-making company, Blue Sky Project, the film -- if unable to provide definitive answers to some of the provocative questions it raises -- does reveal how the truth of the Attica uprising always seems just beyond reach. Four decades later, new details seem to frequently emerge that cause a need to revisit and revise the history of the riot……Film raises questions about 1971 Attica prison riot