Tuesday, October 18, 2016

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

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

The governor was thrilled. Given the “castration of the guard,” Rockefeller stressed, they did indeed need to go in with force. When Rockefeller went on to report that, actually, the prisoners had killed some guards prior to the retaking, Nixon reacted more cautiously. “You can prove that can’tcha?” he said warily, to which Rockefeller gave his assurances. Of course, the governor conceded, it was likely to be “a Catholic hospital” that would be dealing with the hostage deaths, and therefore, “It’s outside of our jurisdiction” (implying that he might have had some sway over media reports had the hospital been a publicly run and funded institution), but he was confident that his information would nevertheless be corroborated. The bottom line, Rockefeller confirmed for Nixon, was that the entire rebellion had been masterminded by African Americans. “The whole thing was led by the blacks,” he said, and he assured the president that he had sent in the troopers “only when they were in the process of murdering the guards.” Rockefeller did warn the president that he was probably going to get some flak from New York City’s mayor, John Lindsay (whom Nixon referred to dismissively as “the New Democrat…the convert” since Lindsay had recently changed political parties), and that the mayor would “probably say that I should have gone up and all these deaths would have been saved,” but Nixon seemed unconcerned. To the idea that Rockefeller should have gone to Attica he said, “No Sir, no Sir.” After Nixon reiterated how much everyone in Washington supported his moves at the prison that morning, Rockefeller thanked him profusely, and signed off by saying, “We’ll do the mopping up now.”

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