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Attica Prison Uprising | A Plea for Surrender | 3

Attica Prison Uprising | A Plea for Surrender | 3

Tue, 24 Aug 2021 07:05

An unexpected death upends the negotiations. As both sides dig in their heels, the hope for a peaceful resolution begins to fade.

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To listen to American scandal one week early and add free, join Wondry Plus in the Wondri app. Download the Wondri app in your Apple or Google Play mobile app store today. It's the morning of September 11, 1971, and Tom Wicker is driving along a rural highway outside the small town of Warsaw, New York. He turns past a tall cornfield and slows down as he pulls up to a street sign. Wicker groans. This isn't the road he's looking for. He's going to have to keep going, driving endlessly through this labyrinth of rural highways, even though he's running on almost no sleep, still wearing his rumpled clothes from yesterday. More than anything, Wicker wishes he could just park the car and take a quick nap, but he can't do that. He and the other men in his car have somewhere to be, and if they don't get there soon, they could miss out on a massive opportunity. Wicker is a political columnist for the New York Times. He cares deeply about racial justice and the abuses that are rampant in America's prisons. So when he was asked to get involved in the Attica Prison Uprising, he knew he had to say yes. Originally, Wicker and some 30 other people were supposed to arrive at Attica and serve as neutral observers. They'd watched the negotiations between the inmates and the state to make sure that everything remained fair. But after the initial talks fell through, Wicker and the other observers were asked to become negotiators themselves. Now, as he drives along a rural highway, Wicker and his fellow observers are on their way to a meeting, while the could help secure the prisoners top demand. Finally, Wicker spots the house he's looking for. He pulls over the car and kills the engine. Then he and the other observers step out and approach the home of Lewis James, the county prosecutor, with jurisdiction over Attica. Wicker steps up to and then knocks on the door. It opens to reveal a middle aged man who's holding three mugs of steaming hot coffee. Well, good morning, Attica observers. Boys need to pick me up? Oh, God, yes. All right, come on in. We've got more coffee in the pot and breakfast in the dining room. The group enters the house. They step into the dining room where they find plates of hot bacon and eggs. They take their seats and as Wicker starts shoveling the food into his mouth, he realizes just how depleted he's been feeling. Now, Tom, I take you've had a rough couple of days. What can I do for you? Well, Lewis, we're trying to help the prisoners meet some of their demands. Hmm. If you ask me if you really want to help those guys, just tell them to surrender. Those who can't do that. There's a reason these inmates rose up and it's pretty reasonable. We know how bad things are at Attica. No one said prison was supposed to be a vacation and I agree. But they're breaking the law. They're guards beating up prisoners. There's no medical care. The inmates are getting paid pennies a day. None of which is my problem, Tom. I'm a prosecutor, not the governor. It's true, but there is something processing and it does involve you. The prisoners need amnesty for the uprising. The prosecutor sets down his fork and stares at Wicker. Amnesty. Tom, that's not going to happen. I'd like you to understand. The inmates are scared. They know they could be punished violently for the uprising. They need some sort of protection. And you have to understand that we have laws around here. I don't have the power to just override them. Even if I did, I wouldn't. These inmates put a guard in the hospital. He's still there now, unconscious. Yeah. And we're all horrified that the guard was hurt. But it's going to be a lot worse if we don't bring this thing to a close. And that's why we need jail. No, I'm sorry. Amnesty's out the question. Wicker sets down his mug. So he considers another approach. Yeah. But what about this? At the very least, could you offer some protections? Like forbidding mass reprisals or only prosecuting inmates who are linked to specific crimes and through conclusive evidence? Yeah, I suppose I could do that. What happens if they shoot it down? They did it before. I heard about that judge. Signs a thing in the middle of the night. Does them affect... he's on vacation. And yet they still won't take it. Yeah? Yeah, they saw it as an imperfect offer. The prisoners thought they were being tricked. But this is different. You know, we can make it work. Promise. You know, the only reason I'm even thanking this is that we've got to end this mess. If you think this will do the trick and file, let's draft something up. And you can take it to the inmates. Wicker exhales with relief. It may not be Amnesty, but it's the next best thing. And this offer could help bring a peaceful end to the standoff. Still, Wicker feels an agging doubt. The prisoners asked for full Amnesty. And Wicker is bringing them a compromise, one that they may, indeed, turn down. Possibility makes them nervous. But all you can do now is hurry back to Anika and help the inmates accept the offer. Because this is as good as it's going to get. American scandal sponsored by Sachi Art. I'm lucky. Not only is my wife beautiful, funny and smart, she also has great taste that matches mine, which has made decorating our home together a delight. But how do we go about finding the art for our home? Well, we agree on that, too. Sachi Art. They have artworks from thousands of emerging artists around the globe in all styles. So you're guaranteed to find art that fits your style, space, and budget. Their view your room feature lets you visualize the art on your walls. And my advisor, Satin, was instrumental in finding our newest piece. Get 15% off your first order with promo code podcast. Just go to and enter code podcast at checkout. Find art you love today. Officially one hour until your favorite show premieres, time to get some snacks delivered through Instacart. Okay, let's get some popcorn, seltzer, chocolate covered almonds, and wait, did they release the whole season? Better cart some ice cream for the two part finale. When your day should be ending but a new season is starting, the world is your cart. Visit or download the app and get free delivery on your first order. Offer valid for a limited time. Minimum order $10 additional terms apply. From Hungary, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scam. On September 9th, 1971, inmates at the Attica Correctional Facility rose up and seized control of the maximum security prison. They sought changes that would make their living conditions more humane and they refused to give up until their demands were met. What followed was a multi day standoff as each side attempted to bring the crisis to a peaceful close but after talks fell apart, state officials turned to a group of outside observers who were tasked with leading new negotiations. As the standoff entered its third day and both sides grew more exhausted, morale began to sink and the situation grew more desperate. Soon the inmates would have to make a consequential decision, one that could mean the difference between life and death. This is episode three, A plea for surrender. It's midday on September 11th, 1971 in the Attica Correctional Facility and day three of the standoff. Inside a small musty room on the second floor of the prison, lawyer William Constler paces anxiously and he minute now several of his fellow observers are set to return after meeting with Lewis James, the county DA. In his legal work, Constler's famous for his focus on civil rights, he wished he could have gone to that meeting with DA James but he's an older man, and tired, and thought he needed the rest. But now, just a few hours later, Constler is awake, walking back and forth through this small mildewy room, which has been set aside for the observers. He's hoping that his partners are going to return with some good news, maybe a promise that the DA is offering amnesty for the prisoners as requested. Soon the door to the room swings open and the observer step inside. At the front of the group is New York Times reporter Tom Wicker. He looks as tired and worn down as Constler feels. But when Constler asks how it went, Wicker suddenly grins and hands over a sheet of paper. It's signed by the DA. Constler grabs the paper, falls into a chair and begins reading. At first, he's optimistic. It looks like the DA is trying to help the prisoners that maybe they could soon bring this crisis to a close. But as Constler continues scrutinizing the document, his heart sinks and his mouth goes dry. The agreement might look good on the surface, but it won't help the prisoners in any meaningful way. Constler knows that he can't hide the truth, so he looks up from the letter, his face grim, and tells the observers they have to start over. This agreement won't work. Tom Wicker, the New York Times reporter, grows flushed and stalks over. He grabs the document and demands know what exactly Constler's talking about. This agreement is a breakthrough. Constler bites his lower lip and delivers the bad news. It's true that this document prohibits violent reprisal. It says that the prisoners won't be prosecuted without conclusive evidence, and that sounds good. But none of it really matters. Violent reprisal is illegal, so is prosecution without evidence. All this letter says is that the state won't break the law. There's not a single real concession. And without amnesty, the prisoners won't feel safe, and the two sides won't get anywhere with the larger negotiations. Wicker collapses into a chair and rubs his blood shut eyes. He says he understands that the letter may be flawed, and although it's not amnesty, it's damn close. The inmates should recognize the intent behind the letter. They should feel protected enough to finally surrender. Constler shakes his head. He's feeling both bitter and regretful. He knew he should have pushed through his exhaustion. He could have gone through that meeting, and he knew better, that he couldn't trust the other observers to handle such an important legal manner. But all he can do now is try to explain the problem. Constler tells the group that the intent of the document isn't what's important. What matters is that the DA's agreement has gaping loopholes. Authorities could exploit these gaps. The prisoners have no real protections. Then, Constler pivots to Wicker, his tone rising. He says that he surprised a seasoned reporter who could be taken in by the friendly DA Act, swayed so easily by eggs, coffee and a smile. Wicker's face goes red. The New York Times reporter is embarrassed and incensed. He rises, shouting at Constler, questioning his leadership. Constler shouts right back. The two men glared each other when one of the other observers steps forward and reminds the men that they're on the same team. They need to calm down and work together. Constler runs a hand through his graying hair and size. The observer is right. He needs to cool it. So he tells Wicker that he's sorry for the patronizing comments. It's a very hard situation and everyone's doing their best. Constler also admits that Wicker has a point. The letter is far from perfect, but at the very least, it'll demonstrate that the observers are making good faith negotiations on the prisoner's behalf. And maybe, if the prisoners are willing to compromise, this document could be enough to help end the standoff. An hour later, inmate Richard X Clarke walks away from a gate separating the prison from the outside world. As he moves through the yard, he stares at hundreds of inmates all out in the open, like sitting ducks. Clarke grimaces at the site. He's been leading negotiations with a group of outside observers as the prisoners continue their fight to change Annika. And at first, the observers appeared sympathetic to their cause. Clarke thought they were making progress, but it seems the progress is stalled. All day, Clarke has been going back and forth to the gate, trying to get updates about the observers. But no one has anything to say. And on top of that, it's been 16 long hours since the observers or the prison administrators have even visited the yard. Clarke rubs his hot, tired eyes. He knows that he's exhausted. He's not thinking as clearly as before. Still, he can't help but worry that the other side is given up and that the police are getting ready to storm in. It doesn't help that officers have taken position on the roofs of the prison. They stand with rifles at their sides and scowls on their faces. The bad signs are piling up. And so for Clarke, the time has come to figure out next steps. They just can't keep waiting around. Clarke approaches Frank Smith, the large muscular inmate who's serving as the prisoners head of security. Hey Frank, we gotta talk. Richard, what's going on? All day, you keep going back and forth to the gate, checking on things. You gotta take a break, man. Just don't time for a break. What happened to the observers? Bill Kumsler? He's supposed to be some big time lawyer. They say he worked with MLK. But now what? Where'd he go? Where'd any of them go? They'll be back, Richard. The observers aren't gone. It's been almost a full day when we haven't heard a word from them. Richard, a day isn't so long. Think about it. The guys in here? They look at things in terms of years, decades. You gotta remember to be patient. Yeah. And normal times, I'd say you're right. But these aren't normal times. Look around. Clarke gestures to the yard where inmates walk freely. One group of men dishes out plates of food while others run a medical station and tend to each other's injuries. Frank, we wanted change, so we took control of Attica. And now we have the power. But you know it, and I do too. This is not gonna last. Yeah? And so what? So what? Frank, if the state is getting ready to send in the troops, if that's what's going on, we have to surrender. And even if that's not what's going on, maybe we still have to surrender. Smith takes a step forward, and suddenly Clarke can see just how big and powerful he really is. Now, Richard, we can't give up. Not until we get what's right. It's fair. I can't keep living in here like animals, getting beaten, starved. We have to change things. It's unjust. I'm just, huh? I thought you weren't into that political talk. No, no, I wasn't. But that was before. And what's changed? I've been talking to people listening to. And they're right. Right. We are human beings, and we should be treated like human beings. Yeah. Well, well, you really want to give up. Just go back to how things were. Clarke doesn't answer. He stares at the cloudy sky and considers the options in front of them. Smith is right. Attica has to change. Still, Clarke can't shake the feeling that something bad is just around the corner. That if they don't give up now, New York's government will strike back with an incredible force. An hour later in Warsaw, New York, the phone rings inside a government office. DA Lewis James reaches over and picks it up. There's a man on the other line with a gruff voice. He says he's Robert Douglas, a close advisor to New York's governor Nelson Rockefeller. James feels his pulse quicken. As the local DA and the top prosecutor in the county that includes Attica, he is a fair amount of local political power. But it's nothing compared to the guys in Albany, the members of the governor's administration. So James tries to keep his voice steady as he talks to the advisor to the governor. Douglas explains that he's calling because he learned that just this morning, James met with a team of observers from Attica. James says it's true. He met with a small group, including the New York Times journalist Tom Wicker. Together, they discussed legal options for the inmates at Attica. Douglas quickly interrupts, saying that he hopes to God James didn't offer any kind of amnesty. That would be a huge mistake. James's exhales relieved. He never would have offered a sweeping deal like amnesty. As DA, James has a firm conviction in the letter of the law. But he does try to be fair, so ultimately he offered what he thought was a compromise, an agreement that would protect innocent prisoners from reprisals. James begins explaining the morning's events when Douglas cuts them off again, saying that the situation has changed. And as DA, he needs to be aware of what's happened. Two days ago, when the riot first broke out, the inmates swarmed into a central area of the prison known as Times Square. They surrounded the officers and brutally attacked one of them, a man named William Quinn. Quinn received a gruesome beating, and the governor's office just got word that he succumbed to the injuries. Officer William Quinn is now dead. James is too stunned to respond. This morning, he tried to show that he was a caring, compassionate man, that he was willing to help the inmates find a lawful way to surrender without suffering harm. But now, knowing that a prison guard has died at the inmates hands, James is gripped with outrage. He feels almost embarrassed. He went out of his way, trying to be flexible. There should be no easy way out for the prisoners, now that they have blood on their hands. The governor's advisor says that the news of Quinn's death has to remain a secret, at least for now. Because if the prisoners find out about it, they'll realize the gravity of their situation. And they won't let up until they get blank at amnesty. They'll drag out negotiations that have already gone on far too long. James tells the governor's advisor that he understands. There will be no amnesty. The information about Quinn's death will remain secret, and negotiations can continue. When James hangs up, he realizes that his hands are shaking. He has a fair amount of sympathy for the prisoners. In some places in his mind, he can imagine why they've rioted, why they insist on changes. But Quinn's murder changes everything. One of their own is dead. And James's love for the law leads him to a new conviction that this crime needs punishment. James knows he's probably not alone in feeling this way. He can imagine the other guards and prison administrators shaking with rage. The governor is likely furious, and unless something radical changes, the prisoners will soon face a terrible retribution. Lots of people don't know it, but autumn is an ideal time to plant. Shorter days and cooler nights create ideal conditions for the plants to get established. If you're looking to spruce up your home, proven winners color choice shrubs has an amazing selection of flowering shrubs and evergreens for planting and gardens and landscapes. With around 320 different proprietary varieties, including classics limelight, hydrangea, and little Henry sweet spire, all of their shrubs are trialed and tested for 8 to 10 years to ensure they outperform anything else on the market. Look for proven winners color choice shrubs in the distinctive white containers at your local garden center. Learn more and find a local retailer at proven winners color choice dot com slash one tree. That's proven winners color choice dot com slash one tree. All right ready ready. Okay when you watch the next one with the one raised don't put up watch it with us. Tune in the fast and loose side cast hosted by the kid mirror and me Michelle Beatle he is funny and I will be there. And she also knows what she's talking about. We go live on every race Sunday. That is right download the app and follow us at amp presents F1 on amp. It's the night of September 11th 1971 at the Attica Correctional Facility in Western New York. It's been three full days since the inmates rose up and took control of Attica and three full days of tense negotiations that have gone nowhere. The situation has been both frustrating and exhausting for William Constler. As the evening grows late Constler takes another sip of cold coffee and rubs his tired eyes. He's gotten almost no sleep since he arrived at Attica and he knows he's not alone. The inmates the prison officials the police station outside everyone is running on fumes. People's patience is running thin and the situation is only getting worse. Constler learned that a prison gardening William Quinn died after experiencing horrible injuries during the uprising. Word has gotten around and prison staffers and the troops outside appear even more agitated and hostile. At the same time the observer still haven't shown the prisoners the agreement they received from the district attorney promising that they won't suffer reprisal from the uprising. The observers have been trying to figure out the best way to present that information, especially considering the latest development. There's also a separate offer from Russell Oswald, the head of New York's prison system. Oswald has agreed to meet many of the inmates demands, but Amnesty is still off the table so the observers have to figure out a way to please the inmates who are not getting their most important demand. Constler takes another sip of cold coffee and grimaces. It's clear this crisis has reached a dangerous precipice. It could tip over into violence at any moment, but Constler is still holding out hope in no small part because of a famous visitor who's about to arrive, someone who could help bring an end to the standoff. There's an excited commotion nearby. That can mean only one thing. Bobby Seal is approaching. Bobby Seal is a famous civil rights activist. He co founded the Black Panther Party, the revolutionary group calling for justice for Black Americans. He's one of the most powerful and respected activists in the world, and Constler represented him alongside the other defendants in the famous trial of the Chicago Seven. So when the door opens and Seal enters, Constler is ecstatic. Oh Bobby, thank God you made it. Well don't start thanking me yet. You could make a huge difference here. That's why I was hoping you'd come. Yeah we'll see. We'll see. I mean what's what's the issue? You're down. Getting me built. Look around. I can't do anything here. I only came because it would look bad if I didn't. That's not true. The inmates see you as an inspiration. You can really help out. How could I possibly do that? You could you could get them to give up control with prison. You're telling me you want them to surrender. Well yeah look look we can still get concessions. We have an offer for real changes at the prison and we'll get those changes made. But for now we need to focus on the safety of the inmates. We have to end this thing. What about a amnesty? Constler dips his head. So far it's off the table. We do have a letter from the A. He won't allow any kind of mass reprisals. Bill you've got to start with amnesty. Otherwise those guys man they're gonna spend the rest of their lives locked up in solitary getting beaten to death by guards all because they stood up for themselves. Oh amnesty cannot be off the table. I'm with you Bobby. Look you know me. We work together so you know what I stand for. We're gonna win this even if we don't get everything we want. Bill you're not gonna win anything. Look you're not dealing with a prison full of white guys. Those men are black. Puerto Rican. You know what that means. There's nothing any of us can do. We know how this story ends man. Constler stares at seal. He's witness seal get angry. Get worked up but he's never seen the leader of the black panthers jaded and cynical. Just then the door to the room swings back open revealing several police officers in the hallway. One of them steps forward and says it's time. They're going to escort seal out to the prison yard so he can speak with the inmates. Seal turns to follow the officer with a dour expression on his face. As the door closes Constler remains standing in place. Crest fallen. He wanted to bring the inmates an icon of hope someone who could persuade them to do the right thing but instead he may have brought them a wounded man whose convinced that hope should be abandoned. Ten minutes later Richard X Clark bounds across the prison yard propelled by a wave of adrenaline. He hasn't felt this exhilarated since long before he went to prison. Clark just received word that a national celebrity has come to join their fight. Bobby Seal, leader of the black panthers and a brilliant and fearless political activist. The national newspapers have already been covering the uprising but with Seal by their side the inmates are sure to get more attention and they'll have a powerful ally one who can help them fight to reform the prison. Clark reaches the negotiation tables that have been set up in the prison yard. They're illuminated with bright lights and on the tabletop a microphone sits connected to an amplifier. Everything's set for Seal's arrival. Clark looks around at the other inmates. In their faces he can see that they're all drained of energy tired and lacking faith. So Clark begins circling the yard telling everyone to head over to the negotiation tables. Some men shake their heads said they'll head over sometime later but when Clark explains that Bobby Seal will soon be joining them the inmates eyes light up. They drop what they're doing and quickly make their way across the yard. By the time Bobby Seal's entered the yard a huge crowd of inmates has gathered. Clark watches in all. Seal is tall and lean with a short afro and a serious demeanor. He looks just like Clark hoped he would an embodiment of strength and black pride. As Seal approaches the negotiation tables dozens of prisoners begin to chant the slogan of the black panthers. Power to the people. Seal picks up the microphone and gasses across the yard. But when he lifts the microphone to his mouth Seal's voice is faint. It sounds like he's only muttering when he replies power to the people. Clark looks around nervously. Maybe the microphone is broken but the amplifier is hissing and whining with feedback and Clark realizes they don't have a tech problem. The issue is that Seal is speaking too quietly. Seal is also looking away avoiding eye contact with the men in the crowd. As they quiet down Seal says that he wanted to speak to the prisoners earlier but he couldn't for various reasons. Then Seal pauses for a long moment and says that apparently the state is making the prisoners an offer. The government wants them to take the deal and surrender. Seal himself says he doesn't have a strong opinion about the matter. The inmates should do whatever they think is best. Seal then adds that he can't say much more until he's had a chance to discuss the situation with Huey P. Newton, the cofounder of the black panthers. Then in a shock to the hundreds of men watching in the yard, Seal sets down the microphone and walks away. Clark is astonished. He doesn't understand what just happened. Seal was supposed to be the inmates ally. He was supposed to rally their spirits and lead them to victory. Instead he's made it clear that he doesn't care whether they live or die. Clark looks around the yard and sees that all the other inmates are equally shocked and demoralized. He knows why. If a legendary activist like Bobby Seal thinks that this uprising is doomed, then maybe it is. Maybe it's time for surrender. Moments later, the inmates in the yard begin to stir. The murmur angrily has they talk about the halfhearted speech from Bobby Seal. They are bitter and disappointed and as William Constler surveys the yard, he begins to grow fearful. These inmates are beyond exhausted. They've lost their patience and someone is going to snap. So, Consler, the famous civil rights attorney, rushes to the negotiation table. He's joined by one of his fellow observers, a man named Clarence Jones. Jones has the admiration of the black inmates, having served as an advisor to Martin Luther King Jr. Hopefully together, these two men can keep the inmates passions from rising. Constler hands Jones the microphone, who pulls out a packet of documents and tells the crowd that he has a proposal from Oswald, the head of New York prisons. He also has a letter from the local district attorney. The officials are promising that if the inmates surrender peacefully, they won't be harmed. And many, though not all, of their demands will be met. But as Jones speaks, an inmate in the crowd shouts out, asking about amnesty. Constler and Jones exchange clanses. Jones is shoulder slumps and says that unfortunately, there has been no such offer. All at once, dozens have been made start booing and screaming curses. Someone hurls an aluminum can at the negotiation table. Constler's head starts to pound. These inmates have been pushed to the brink. And right now, this could be the beginning of a riot. Somehow, he has to calm everyone down. Constler grabs the microphone and begins speaking rapidly. He tells the inmates that they have many reasons to be upset. He shares their frustration. But as their lawyer, he's closely examined the documents that his fellow observer just described. They are far from perfect, but they might be the best offered the inmates are going to get. Especially now that prison guard William Quinn is dead. Several prisoners gasp audibly. Immediately, Constler is hit with regret. He should not have said that. The inmates knew about Quinn's attack. Many of them saw the young guard when he was unconscious. His face bloody and swollen with bruises. And they know that their leader, Richard X Clark, was the one who brought Quinn to safety. But now the truth is out. They are uprising led to the death of a prison guard and the inmates are frozen with fear. Constler himself feels like the blood has drained from his face. The inmates now know that the outside world will blame them for the death of a white law enforcement officer. People will call for vengeance. And with their backs against a wall, the inmates may do something reckless. Constler turns away from the shocked inmates and gives the microphone to Jones. Jones steps forward and asks if the inmates want the settlement documents from the state and the DA. Richard X Clark steps forward and responds loudly so everyone can hear. He asks Constler and Jones how they could possibly ask that. Without amnesty, the consequences of Quinn's death for the prisoners is too dire. Clark then walks forward and takes the papers from Jones's hands. And with his eyes wide, Clark rips the documents in half, letting them flutter to the ground. Immediately, the crowd roars with approval. Constler's palms go sweaty. The situation is spiraling out of control. So he and Jones duck away from the tables and hurried towards the exit. As Constler races to get out of prison yard, the inmates continue to roar and fury and indignation. William Constler feels only sorrow. He wanted to help them to improve their lives. But at this point, it might be too late. Any peaceful resolution may be impossible. The best weddings are always filled with unforgettable moments and personal thoughtful touches. Like my friend Cecilie's wedding where the groom tossed the bouquet. For any kind of wedding you want, there's one place to start. Zola has everything you need, all in one place. They've thought of everything. Venues invites registry and more and they'll be with you every step of your wedding planning journey. Whatever your style or budget, Zola has you covered with venues, photographers, florists and more to make your wedding happen. Once you've set the date, you can send your save the dates and invitations right on Zola too. There's so many great designs to choose from and you can get a matching wedding website for free. Wedding planning shouldn't take over your life and Zola has thought of everything. So you can plan the celebration that's right for the two of you. Start planning the wedding you want at That's It's September 11th, 1971, and near midnight on the third day of the standoff. Inside Atticus Administration Building, Russell Oswald is preparing for a meeting that could determine the fate of hundreds of people's lives. Oswald is ahead of New York's prisons. Throughout his career, he's thought of himself as reformer. He's committed to making life more humane for the large prison population across New York. And two days ago, when Oswald came to Attica, he had sympathy for the prisoners. He believed that they were only fighting to be treated like human beings. Oswald wanted to help resolve the standoff and make improvements at Atticus. But it's now obvious that all his efforts have failed. The state government has lost its patience, and with the pressure now growing for a siege of the prison, Oswald only has one last option. He's going to try to buy some time. The group of government officials Oswald has been waiting on, entered the office, and a man with combed white hair steps forward. He's John Monahan, a major within New York State Police. Well, Russell, we ready to talk business? No, not quite. Can we get some quiet? Can someone close the door? Watch you worry about some Soviet spies out there? No, not Soviets, but I'll tell you what, not far from it. William Consler and all the other observers, they're still in the building. I don't want them over hearing this. Smart. No, not smart enough. You know, I really thought I could talk this out. Strike a deal with the inmates. I know you did. But Russell, those men are locked up for a reason. You can't come to understanding with people like that. It's not your fault. Maybe not. Maybe not. But I think we need to take a little more time for moving forward with more drastic options. Russell, with all due respect, there's nothing more to think about. It's time to take action. Those are some of the most dangerous men alive. They killed William Quinn, one of us. But you still listen to them and you still offered reforms. In the DA, he offered to treat them fairly. They ripped those proposals in half. Russell, it's time to get on board. Oswald looks out the window where he can see a crowd of inmates gathered together. No, I don't think we're ready. Not yet. I mean, look out there. Look at the hostages. If you invade, they'll be in serious danger. So listen, I know the governor is getting ready to pull the trigger on this. I want you to urge him to reconsider. We can't put our men in danger. Russell, they won't be in danger. We're trained for this. We'll get in, we'll neutralize the riders, we'll extract the hostages in and out. In and out, huh? You can't say that with certainty. Nothing in life is certain, Russell. But this is what we have to do. And frankly, whether you like it or not is going to happen. We're going to retake that prison. Oswald closes his eyes as he considers the grave situation in front of them. Every minute this standoff continues, it seems more clear that it will have to end in a siege and a large show of force. Monhan isn't wrong. At the same time, Oswald isn't ready to throw in the towel. Maybe there's still some way this can end peacefully. Maybe the inmates will see the truth in their situation. And maybe they'll accept the state's offers and relinquish control before everything comes to a violent end. The next morning, William Cumsler walks again toward the looming gray walls of Atika. Stay for the standoff. And as Cumsler nears the entrance of the prison, he notices that the police officers seem to have grown in number. They look restless, rage burning in their eyes. It's a nerve wracking sight. And as Cumsler looks around, he realizes that the prison is practically surrounded by troops. It's a dire situation. And Cumsler knows that he and the other observers have to make swift progress with the negotiations. Otherwise, this uprising will soon end in tragedy. Cumsler steps back into his musty workroom, where he and the other observers have spent hours working through the negotiations. Today, the observers are to meet with an advisor to the governor, hoping for what could be a last minute breakthrough. Soon, there's a knock on the door, and the observers look up, as Robert Douglas enters the room. He's clean cut, wearing a well tailored navy blue suit. With just one look, Cumsler can see that he's a power hungry political type. He probably doesn't care about the prisoners or their plight. Still, Cumsler and the other observers are going to have to find a way to get through to him, because he could influence the governor and prevent a disaster. The meeting begins, and one of the observers tells Douglas that the governor must come to Attica right away. The inmates have asked for Governor Rockefeller to visit them personally. They believe the governor might be sympathetic to their plight. And whether or not this is true, Rockefeller's mere presence might still be helpful. If he appears at Attica, the governor will show that he takes the inmates seriously. That could help the prisoners feel hurt, and they might be more willing to surrender peacefully. Douglas listens to the request, nodding his head, his expression inscrutable. Another observer then offers his own plea. It's Herman Badeo, a famous US congressman who's known as a champion of civil rights. Badeo says that the governor should be mindful of the way this crisis will be viewed in places like the Bronx, or Harlem. If the prisoners are hurt, New York City could face serious unrest. Badeo adds that no one is expecting Governor Rockefeller to step inside the prison yard and sit down at the negotiation table. He just needs to make an appearance. It'll give the inmates confidence that Rockefeller will protect them if they decide to surrender. Douglas nods again, remaining silent. But for William Consler, as he watches the governor's advisor, it becomes clear that none of these suggestions have made a difference. But they can't give up. So Consler decides to make an argument framed around the governor's own self interest and image. Consler tells Douglas that if the governor doesn't come, he'll be condoning a massacre, and the whole country will be watching. Douglas gives a slight smirk, and finally speaks up. He tells the observers that he hears them, and he'll speak with the governor. Then he turns, walked out of the room. For a moment, the room full of some 30 observers is silent. Consler can see it in their eyes. The entire group, the activists, the civil rights champions, the political leaders, everyone here has grown hopeless. They've done everything they could, and still the negotiations have collapsed. Consler isn't sure exactly what will happen next, but all signs point to the one thing he had hoped to avoid. The troops, Consler, saw outside the prison this morning will get their orders. They'll read either weapons, march forward, and lay siege. Next on American Scandal, the inmates of Attica receive a threat and face a moment of reckoning. Governor Rockefeller makes a faithful decision. From Wondry, this is Episode 3 of the Attica Prison of Rising for American Scandal. If you like our show, please give us a five star rating and leave a review and be sure to tell your friends. I also have two other podcasts you might like. American history tellers and business movers. Follow on Apple podcasts, Amazon Music, or wherever you're listening right now. Or you can listen to new episodes early and add free by subscribing to Wondry Plus in Apple Podcasts or in the Wondry app. You'll also find some links and offers from our sponsors in the episode notes. Supporting them helps us keep offering our shows for free. Another way you can support this show is by filling out a small survey at slash survey to tell us what topics we might come next. You can also find us and me on Twitter. Follow me at Lindsay A. Graham, Lindsay with an A, Middle and Initially. And thank you. A quick note about our reenactments. In most cases, we can't know exactly what was said, but all our dramatizations are based on historical research. If you'd like to learn more about the Atica Prison uprising, we recommend the book Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson. American Scandal is hosted, edited, and executed produced by me Lindsay Graham for airship. Audio editing by Molly Bach, Sound Design by Derek Ferrance, Music by Lindsay Graham. This episode is written by Hannibal Diaz, edited by Christina Mallsberger. Our senior producer is Gabe Ribbon, Executive Producer, Stephanie Jenns, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and her nonmoboes for Wondry. What if your family was the victim of a home invasion, or you woke up in the morgue, or you were seriously injured miles from help? What would you do? This is actually happening. Ask our listeners this very question, while we bring you captivating real life stories of trauma and perseverance. This is actually happening, brings listeners extraordinary true stories from the people who lived them. You'll hear stories about conflict, turmoil, or threats that dramatically alter the course of someone's life. 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