BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Attica prison was the scene of America's bloodiest prison rebellion. Monday night, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is fighting for the release of sealed documents concerning the 1971 Attica uprising.
To this day, there are many unanswered questions about the take-back of the Attica prison, which ended with 43 people killed. Schneiderman believes unsealing this report will answer some questions.
PHOTOS | On Sept. 9, 1971, prisoners seized control of the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility
After four days of negotiations when the inmates took over the Attica prison in September 1971, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller ordered an end to it.
He sent in state police with tear gas, shotguns and automatic weapons. 43 people were killed, including 10 prison guards.
The state has long faced criticism for its handling of the uprising, and even paid out millions to settle lawsuits.
But for decades, a comprehensive report on the ordeal has been kept secret.
"I think it's terrible it didn't come out earlier," said Bruce Jackson.
Jackson is a UB professor who's studied prisons for 50 years and has written extensively about Attica. He says if Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is successful in unsealing the Attica report, we will have a much better understanding of one of New York's darkest days.
"The main thing is for the public to know what happened so maybe we can prevent it from happening a second time," Jackson said.
Jackson hopes to find answers to suspicions he's had, such as whether state police planted weapons in the hands of dead inmates or mutilated their bodies after killing them.
"He has six 357 magnum bullets in his eyes," Jackson said of one inmate whose body he suspects authorities shot from close range after he was already dead.
The report is being kept in Buffalo at the Main Place tower. And Jackson believes the report never should have been kept secret.
"This was a public inquiry into a major public event. The public has a right to know. The families of the dead guards, the families of the dead convicts have a right to know what happened that afternoon," Jackson said.
The only shame, Jackson says, is that the report wasn't unsealed much sooner.
It's up to the Wyoming county Supreme Court to consider Schneiderman's request to unseal the report.
“Attica was a tragic event in the history of our state. It is important, both for families directly affected and for future generations, that these historical documents be made available so the public can have a better understanding of what happened and how we can prevent future tragedies," Schneiderman said.
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