Friday, October 21, 2016

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

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

Still no one from the state of New York ever contacted the families of the dead prisoners by phone or personal letter to tell them the fate of their loved one. Most had to hear the terrible news over the radio and only then because Howard Coles, a popular African American radio personality from Rochester, had decided to dedicate his popular broadcast to providing his listeners with whatever information the DOCS released about the dead as soon as it was made available. This was how Laverne Barkley finally found out what had happened to her son. For days she had been trying to reach someone at the prison for word of L.D., and when she got nowhere with state officials, she decided to drive across town to the headquarters of FIGHT—the social justice organization run by minister Franklin Florence, one of the observers—to see if she could get him to help her. But before she ever got to the office, while she was still circling the street looking for a parking space, she heard her son’s name being read over the radio. Her young daughter Traycee, who was sitting next to her in the passenger seat, watched in great distress as her mother almost lost control of the car, pulled over, and collapsed in grief. Now that L.D. was dead, Mrs. Barkley berated herself for never having taken his complaints about his treatment at the prison seriously enough. Just before the uprising L.D. had said to her: “You can’t imagine what it is like here…. I know that there is a possibility that I shall never leave here alive.”

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