Thursday, October 13, 2016

the last book I ever read (Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy, excerpt one)

from Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson:

To the relief of the 1,281 prisoners who found themselves suddenly in charge of their own facility, and to the horror of prison officials and the police who had been watching their actions from the outside, by the afternoon of September 9 Attica’s D Yard had become the scene of a highly organized and remarkably calm protest. Whereas the early morning hours had been filled with the sounds of men screaming and windows being smashed, a few hours later the incarcerated at Attica were bringing some remarkable order to what had been utter chaos.

Prisoner Carlos Roche very much liked the freedom of movement that the morning’s upheaval had netted him, but he also found the lack of structure worrisome. Roche was part of 48 Company in D Block and like the thirty-nine other men in his company, including his friend Frank “Big Black” Smith, he was assigned to work in the laundry. The morning of September 9, he was at his job when he realized that the metal shop just above the laundry was on fire. The phone was ringing behind him—Superintendent Mancusi’s wife was, at this very moment, calling down to the laundry to order clean sheets for the warden’s mansion—but all Roche could focus on was the smell of smoke, the sound of men yelling, and then, once he’d stepped out into the corridor, the utter chaos. When a forklift being driven by a prisoner came barreling down the corridor, he finally understood: a riot was in progress.

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