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Tue, 10 Aug 2021 07:30
The Attica Correctional Facility is a notoriously brutal prison, where beatings are commonplace, and prisoners work for pennies. Tensions have begun to boil over, and after a guard and inmate get into a fight, the maximum-security prison is pushed to the brink.
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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 September 12, 1971 in Attica, New York. Richard X Clark walks across a massive concrete yard that's covered in mud. He stops, a warm wind blowing through his hair and stares at the site in front of him. Clark is standing in a prison yard at the Attica Correctional Facility. Normally this area is under tight supervision with armed guards standing watch controlling the movements of every prisoner. But everything changed three days ago when the inmates decided they'd had enough. They were tired of the abuse of the guards violence and mistreatment, so the inmates rose up and together they took control of the prison. As Clark looks out over the yard, he still can't believe what he's saying. Hundreds of inmates move around like free men. A group of hostages sit huddled together on an old mattress with prisoners standing guard. The yard has been turned into a sprawling encampment. It's a democratic society that's run by the prisoners themselves and led by a small group of leaders including Richard X. Clark. He's only 25 years old. He's slender and wears black frame glasses. Even though he's young, he knows that he and the other inmates have made history. Now that they control Attica, they can demand significant changes, improve the lives of prisoners, but it's even bigger than that. Clark knows they can change prisons across the country, maybe even the rest of the world. Still, as he looks around the yard, Clark can see that the feelings of triumph and revolution are already fading. It's day three of the standoff and the inmates look exhausted and on the brink of making a rash decision. It's a situation that could only grow worse with some news that has just arrived. Clark approaches an inmate named Frank Smith, a towering man who was appointed head of security. Frank, we've got a problem. Yeah, no kidding. We've got a problem. It's been three days. We're not getting anywhere. We got the prison, but we also got state police surrounding us. I know, but listen, there's something else you need to see. Clark takes out a message he received from a government official, the man who runs the prisons in New York State. It's from Russell Oswald. It's a demand to surrender. Richard, he's been saying that from the start. I know. But Frank, this time, something's different. He's not asking anymore. This is a threat. Huh? Well, let's tell everyone. They got to know. If our people hear this, they're just going to dig in their heels. I don't think they need to know that it's come to an ultimate of them. You sure about that? I think so. The thing is the only option. If it were the only option, you wouldn't be talking to me right now, trying to figure things out. So here's what I think. When we took over, we made a promise. We make decisions together. All the inmates together. So whatever's on that piece of paper, you got to read it out loud and let them decide. Clark exhales and shuts his eyes. Okay. The two men make their way across the yard to a set of scuffed wooden tables. Clark grabs a microphone, wired up to a speaker. At the sound of his voice, hundreds of prisoners suddenly look up. Clark raises the document in the air and announces that he just received a message from Oswald, the head of prisons. The commissioner demands that they end the rebellion and that they release the guards they're holding hostage. Oswald says they need to do so immediately. Then and only then will he meet with the inmates to discuss their grievances, and possibly changes to the prison. Clark sets down the note and looks at the men in the audience. Prisoners who for years have suffered torture at the hands of guards, grievous medical treatment, an unspeakable nightmare day after day, all of which has pushed them to this break. As Clark looks over the crowd, he asks who's in support of accepting the proposal, letting the hostages go. Yard is silent. Then Clark asks who's against the proposal, and all at once hundreds of men yell out an anger. It's decided there will be no surrender. Clark swallows hard, because while the men have once again stood up for themselves, and their own dignity, Clark suspects that the state is done bargaining. And if that's true, it could be just a matter of hours before the attempt to retake Attica by force. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music, or wherever you listen to podcasts. From Wondery, I'm Lindsay Graham, and this is American Scandal. Music When it comes to prisons, the United States is in a league of its own. Our country has the largest prison population of the entire world, and on top of that, we incarcerate people at a higher rate than any other country. At the same time, many prisoners face inhumane treatment, as they live their lives out behind bars. Prison demographics point to enormous racial, political, and socioekonomic divides that have plagued the country since its founding. And while concerns about our criminal justice system have emerged in recent years, this isn't the first time our nation has grappled with the issue. In the early 1970s, the civil rights movement pushed reform prisons, and many inmates became politically engaged, protesting their brutal treatment. The most explosive of these protests took place at the Attica Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Western New York. Conditions at the prison were appalling, and as tensions came to a head, the inmates decided they'd had enough. They took control of the prison, and for four days, the inmates captured the nation's attention as they negotiated for a series of reforms. For many, the standoff was a story about the power of hope and courage, but it was also seen as a tragedy of missed opportunities, and the devastating consequences of racial animosity. But above all, it was a fight for justice that began in 1971 and still continues today, 50 years later. This is Episode 1, Liberation. It's the summer of 1971. In upstate New York, a gray prison van rumbles down a two lane highway. It's a sweltering day, and near the back of the van, Jomo Jocca O'Mawala sits with his wrists and ankles shackled, a bead of sweat trickling down his broad, dark forehead. Lands quietly on the sleeve of his prison jumpsuit. O'Mawala shakes his head and turns to look out the bulletproof windows. Maybe something outside can distract him from the stifling heat, but all he sees are ramshackle barns in the occasional cow. O'Mawala can't imagine a dollar landscape, but still he's grateful for the view, because soon he'll be back behind bars, and it'll be several years before he sees the outside world again. O'Mawala is bitter. He won't deny that he committed the robbery, but he feels he did what he had to do in order to feed himself and his family. He was born and raised in the Jim Crow South, and as a black man, he learned that you have to take things if you need them, because you never know what will be taken from you. Because of his crimes, O'Mawala has been in and out of prison. The guards are often white, racist, and violent. At the last prison, O'Mawala had had enough. He led a group of men who banded together and demanded better treatment from the guards, but not only prompted additional punishment. O'Mawala was put in shackles and put into this van, which is taking him to the maximum security prison in Attica. Soon the van pulls into a parking lot and comes to a stop. The back door swing open and five guards step out into the van, holding thick wooden clubs. They stare at the prisoners with cold hatred in their eyes, and they order the prisoners out of the van. O'Mawala rises and steps out into the sunlight and gets his first full view of Attica. His breath catches as he gazes at the colossal gray walls of the prison. On top of the walls are gun towers, with guards pacing hands on their rifles. As he stares up at these towers, suddenly something hard jabs into his lower back. O'Mawala stumbles forward, as guards begin barking, telling him to get in line. O'Mawala quickly steps up behind the other image and begins marching forward. O'Mawala shudders as he approaches the steel gate of the entrance of the prison. Shadow seemed to rise from the ground, threatening to swallow him whole. He's been in and out of plenty of jails and prisons, but Attica has a reputation for brutality, for violence, and unbearable suffering. He has no idea what terror he might face soon, so all he can do now is pray that he will survive the next few years. Later that summer, in 1971, Joe Mojoca O'Mawala limps down a dark narrow hallway. He's in a line of 20 other inmates inside the Attica Correctional Facility, together they're heading toward the mess hall. Even though his body is racked with pain, O'Mawala has to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Last night he went to bed hungry, and it was the same the night before. This morning, his stomach feels like it's about to cave in on itself. He has to get some breakfast, even if every time he takes a step, his muscles ache with pain. When O'Mawala arrived at Attica just a month ago, he was terrified, but still filled with a sense of righteousness. He believed that prisons had an obligation to treat inmates fairly and humanely. And O'Mawala believed he had this strength to stand up for what was right. But Attica broke him, and it broke him quickly. He's only been granted one shower per week. Each month he gets a single roll of toilet paper. Jobs at the prison paid just six cents a day. He'll need to save up for months if he wants to buy a toothbrush or shampoo. And it's not just that he's filled with your paid slave wages. O'Mawala has already been beaten by the guards twice. Every day he seems to violate some rule that he was never told about, and the Attica guards begin hitting him again. O'Mawala feels flat and depressed. He's not sure how much more of this he can take. But for now he knows he can only focus on the small tasks, taking one step forward, getting to the mess hall, getting a plate of warm food. Guard slides open a metal door, and the prisoners continue shuffling into the next hallway. An older prisoner turns back in the line and smiles at O'Mawala. Hey young man, you're new here, right? Yeah, well look at you. We got to get you a shower, maybe some new clothes. Yeah, hey young man, buck off. O'Mawala grits his teeth snarling. Fuck up. Man, I'm filthy, I'm bruised, I'm starving. I can't sleep. This isn't right. Of course it isn't right. But hang in there. You'll get used to it. Hold time right, I don't want to get used to it. This isn't how it's supposed to be. They take away your freedom. That's the punishment. Jury and judge, they didn't give me a sentence of no food, no showers, beatings. I say you haven't lost your fire. I think I heard about you. You came from over an Auburn, right? I heard you were in that riot. O'Mawala grins with a sudden feeling of pride. Yeah, that was me. But a riot? Nah, that's not the right word. A riot for people who just want to break things. We want to change things. You took over that prison. That's bold, son. It's not bold if you want basic rights. They wouldn't give it to us so we tried to take it. And tell me, young man, what happened? We got together, we fought the guards, we took hostages, and the warden tells us, let the hostages go, surrender, and we'll meet with you. We'll consider your demands. It was a trick. There was no meeting. They just beat the hell on us, and then they sent me here. They tried to break us there, just like they're trying to break us here. O'Mawala feels an old fire rising up inside him. A burning desire to do something, to change things. But right as he's about to say more, guard shouts from the front of the line. O'Mawala and the other prisoner need to stop talking. But the old man shakes his head, and shouts back that they're allowed to talk. There's no rule against it. Prison guard stalks towards the old man, his blue eyes cold with fury, and he repeats the order. O'Mawala and the old man need to shut their mouths. But the older man just says again that inmates are allowed to socialize on their way to breakfast. There's no rule against it. A vain bulges on the guard's neck, and then everything happens very quickly. The guard yanks the older prisoner, begins dragging him away. The old man cries out, his voice echoing down the hallway, as the guard announces that he's taking the old man into solitary. And there's plenty of space for anyone else who has something to say. The blood rises in O'Mawala. The old man didn't do anything wrong. He shouldn't be getting punished. But O'Mawala knows there's no use getting himself thrown into solitary. That won't change a thing. Instead, what he needs to do is start meeting people and organizing. Because this can't go on. Somehow the inmates have to change Attica. A few days later, Frank Lot takes a seat in the shade in the prison yard at Attica Correctional Facility. He pulls out a notepad and pen and looks up at four of his fellow inmates. Then he nods and the men begin to speak and rapid bursts of anger and indignation. Lot writes as fast as he can, jotting down notes about the men's grievances. One inmate described had the guards used him as their personal whipping dog. Another inmate says the prison doesn't offer religious freedom from Muslims. A third man says the parole system is broken. After all the men finish talking, Lot adds to the list with his own complaints. Attica needs to offer real medical care for its inmates. Treatment right now is a joke. It's something that Lot knows all too well. Just weeks ago, he developed a painful rash on his scalp. But when he visited the infirmary, the prison doctor said it was nothing. That Lot should go back to his cell. When Lot insisted he needed care, even just anointment, he was thrown in solitary confinement. Solitary is a devastating punishment. But that's just how things go in Attica. And that's why he and his fellow inmates are meeting right now. The prison has to change and the group is drafting a series of complaints and demands. They're calling themselves the Attica Liberation Faction, and they're planning to send their list to Russell Oswald, the head of New York State prison system. They hope that in his position of power Oswald can do something to change the conditions here at the facility. Lot finishes writing and looks back up at the other inmates. He announces that they now have a list of 28 demands. The message is ready for Oswald. But one of the inmates asked to reread the list. When he finishes, he suggests that they add a note at the end. I should warn that the prisoners may need to take aggressive action if their demands are not met. Lot considers the proposal but shakes his head. He doesn't think they should issue any kind of threat or ultimatum. He's heard good things about Oswald. Lot believed that they have a real shot at getting through, but they have to remain even tempered and courteous. The Inmate pauses, chewing this over. Then he nods, deferring to Lot's judgment. And after checking with the other men, Lot folds up the letter and slips it in his pocket. He tells the others he'll mail it off this afternoon. He's hopeful they can commence someone in power to take action. The other inmates clap lot on the shoulder, saying they have a good feeling about this. And while Lot offers an encouraging smile, he doesn't mention something that's been knowing at him. The reason why he didn't want the note at the end, the warning of violence, is because it's all too obvious to him. The situation at Annika has grown truly desperate. Something bad will happen if the letters ignored. Because every day tensions are rising inside the prison. Inmates are getting more fed up. They may reach a breaking point. Lot is unsure exactly what the prisoners might do, but one thing is clear, it won't be peaceful, and it will likely be dangerous. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. Generation Y is one of the longest running true crime podcasts out there, and we are still at it, unraveling a new case every week. We break down infamous cases like the Evil Genius Bank robbery, and lesser known cases like the case of Kimberly Rico. Did she actually kill her husband after they took part in a murder mystery game? We cover every angle, breaking down theories, diving deep into forensic evidence, and interviewing those close to the case. And with over 450 episodes, there's a little something for every true crime listener. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music, or every listen to podcasts, or you can listen ad free by joining Wondry Plus in the Wondry app. It's September 2nd, 1971 at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York. In a dark cell that reeks of mildew, Jomo Joka O'Mawala holds his head near a small dented radio. In Attica, each cell has a radio like this one, which only offers three stations filled with static. It's hardly a way to pass the time. But tonight, O'Mawala is glued to the radio, waiting for a broadcast. He could offer details about a new era coming to Attica. Earlier this week, a group of prisoners sent a letter to Russell Oswald, the head of New York's prison system. They called attention to the nightmare conditions inside the prison and demanded reforms. In a surprising turn, Oswald agreed to visit Attica to meet with the prisoners and discuss their proposals. O'Mawala and the other inmates were stunned to hear the news. It seemed like finally someone might put an end to the beatings, starvation, and reckless use of solitary confinement. Oswald is scheduled to arrive at Attica tomorrow morning, and tonight, starting any minute, there's supposed to be a radio broadcast detailing Oswald's itinerary. As O'Mawala turns up the volume, there's a crackle followed by a man's voice, which cuts through the static. He greets the inmates of Attica and introduces himself as Russell Oswald, the head of New York's prisons. O'Mawala sits up, filled with anticipation. But his heart sinks as Oswald announces that he has some unfortunate news. He planned to address the inmates in person, but circumstances have intervened. Oswald apologizes over the airwaves and says he won't be able to visit the prison after all. But he has read the letter from the Attica Liberation Faction, and he and his staff will seek to make changes, if possible. The radio crackles and then goes silent. O'Mawala stares at the dial, feeling weak with disappointment. Then, somewhere down the hall, an inmate starts banging on his cell door. O'Mawala rises as the noise grows louder. He looks out at inmates in their cells all around him, as they begin to shout and rage, chanting two words in a loop, cop out, cop out. O'Mawala clenches his fists in anger. Then he joins the course, shouting as loud as he can. These first months at Attica have been a nightmare beyond imagination. They've nearly broken O'Mawala, and it had seemed like someone in power might do something about it, but his hopes have been dashed, and O'Mawala is filled with an old, familiar feeling of outrage. The same feeling he had at the last prison before he led enough rising. O'Mawala had promised himself he'd lie low, get through his time at Attica, but now it's clear that's not an option. He's going to have to fight again. Because if the government won't fix Attica's problems, then the inmates will have to do the job themselves. Six days later, inmate Leroy Duer squins into the midday sun. Then he quickly dodges right, as another man tries to plant his fist in Duer's face. Duer skips back, dancing on the hot pavement. Then he dips left as another fist come flying past his chin. Leroy Duer is in Attica's yard grinning as he watches his opponent's maneuvers. While it looks like they're fighting, the two prisoners are actually just sparring, practicing boxing moves. And although this afternoon, he hasn't dodged every punch, Duer can't remember the last time he felt this good. He just got out of a seven day stint in solitary confinement, punishment he received for questioning a guard. It was a maddening week spent in near total blackness, and so today, out in the yard, Duer is soaking up all the sunshine he can get. Duer and his boxing partner keep swinging, dodging, weaving back and forth. When suddenly there's a shrill whistle in the distance. Duer knows that sound well. It's a whistle from a prison guard, but he tunes it out. His mind's still focused on dodging punches. Let the whistle sounds again, and gets closer and louder. Finally, Duer can't ignore it. He raises his hand to stop the sparring and glances over his shoulder. jogging toward him is a guard whose pale face is red from the sun. Duer looks around, confused. The guard is Richard Moroni, a senior lieutenant at the prison. Normally, senior guards like Moroni only blow their whistles if there's a serious problem, but looking around doesn't seem like there's anything going on. Moroni stops in front of Duer. His breath labored, orders the inmate to return to his cell. Duer raises a eyebrow. He's not doing anything wrong. So he asked the guard what's this all about. Moroni stepped forward, glaring at Duer and his sparring partner. He says the fights over, it's time to get back to their cells. Duer breathes aside for leaf. It's a misunderstanding. He explains that he and his friend weren't fighting, they were sparring. But Moroni just shakes his head and says he knows what he saw. And he sets his hand on his night stick, tells Duer to come with him immediately. Duer can feel his anger rising. He doesn't want to do anything stupid, so he starts to walk away. But that's when he feels the tight grip of Moroni's hand on his shoulder. And before Duer knows it, his instincts take hold. He spins around and punches the guard right in the chest. Moroni staggers back. As Duer looks at his own fist and shock, he can't believe what he's just done. The guard then lunges forward, seizing his arm. Duer tenses and waits for a beating. But then he hears the murmur of voices gathering around him. He looks up and sees dozen of other inmates all walking toward him and Moroni. They form a circle around Duer and Moroni, and several prisoners start shouting demanding Moroni leave Duer alone. Moroni lets go up Duer, his eyes darting around nervously. A circle grows smaller. And out of nowhere, one of the white inmates shoves Moroni. The guard goes stumbling back. Then dozens more inmates join the fray as the circle grows even tighter. These men might have come to his defense, but now Duer is growing afraid. He can't predict what will happen next, but his god tells him one thing. If this confrontation escalates, someone could die. Another whistle sounds in the distance, and the inmates turn to a blonde lieutenant named Robert Curtis, racing toward the crowd. He pushes to the center of the circle demanding to know what's going on. Duer and Moroni start explaining their side to the story, but the guard waves his arms and tells the prisoners that the show's over. It doesn't matter who did what, everyone just needs to walk away, and that includes Duer. Duer stares at the guards and shock. He was sure he was about to get thrown back in solitary and find it, probably beaten, maybe worse. But the guards just walk away, leaving him and the other inmates to themselves. As the crowd disperses, Duer sits down to collect his thoughts. This never happens. It's almost a miracle. And so there's only one explanation. God must have intervened. Duer shields his eyes, looking up at the sky, and gives his thanks that this one time he was shown mercy. An hour later, the prison guard Robert Curtis marches down a long hallway inside Attica. He stops at the office of Vincent Mankuzi, the superintendent of the entire prison. It's Curtis's job to tell Mankuzi about the riot they just have heard it. And while the superintendent will probably want to crack down on the inmates, Curtis hopes he can convince his boss otherwise. It seems a Curtis that the prisoners have reached some sort of breaking point. Right, applying more pressure now would certainly be lighting a fuse. Curtis takes a deep breath and knocks on the door. And yeah. Sir, it's Lieutenant Curtis. Can I come in? Yeah, I want to. Curtis enters the office and finds superintendent Mankuzi sitting at his broad desk. The view overlooking the four quadrants of Attica's yard. But Mankuzi isn't looking outside. His BDIs are focused on the stack of documents. Alright Curtis, what do you want? Well, sir, there was an incident in the yard. It was about an hour ago. Anyone dead? No, sir. It was a fight between senior Lieutenant Moroni and two inmates. No one was hurt. And I'm certain it was a misunderstanding, but because of protocol, I wanted to let you know. Mankuzi rises from his chair and looks out at the window at the yard where the event took place. Uh, it's contained now. It is, sir. Alright, good. And now I'm assuming the inmates are in lockup? Curtis pauses. No, sir. We let them go. You had two inmates in a fight with a guard and you let them go? Yes, sir. I believe solitary would have been a bad idea at this time. A bad idea at this time. You thought it was a good idea to let the bastards fight with a guard with all the other inmates watching? And then show everyone they could get away with it? No, sir, are you out of your mind? Looking down, Curtis takes a breath and composes his thoughts. I'm superintendant Mankuzi. Ever since Mr. Oswald declined to visit the prison, I've noticed that the inmates have become extremely agitated. I'm suggesting we let things cool off. That's why you're not in charge. Go get the inmates and put them in solitary for two weeks. Sir, I really ask you to reconsider. It's not about the inmates. I'm looking out for the safety of the guards. Curtis, the decision is final. Get those men into solitary by tomorrow morning. Understood? Yes, sir. Understood. Curtis turns to exit Mankuzi's office. And as he walks through the empty hallway, he takes several deep breaths trying to calm himself down. Curtis is an experienced guard and has dealt with convicted felons for years. But in all that time, he's never been as frightened as he is right now. The attitude of the inmate population at Annika has changed. Something is simmering just below the surface. Curtis feels sure a riot could break out at any minute. And if it comes to that, the guards are unprepared. They don't have the equipment or the training to deal with the riot. Curtis only hopes that the prisoners never realize the power they hold. Several hours later, Annika inmate Lee Roy Dewey lies on his hard mattress staring up at the ceiling of his cell. The night's gotten late, but Dewey can't fall asleep. He can't stop thinking about earlier today when he punched a guard and nothing happened. He's never been so lucky in his life. But then as Dewey turns over, he notices a group of flashlight beams piercing the darkness. His door suddenly opens and four guards stream into his cell. One of those guards is Richard Moroni, a man who Dewey punched earlier today. With a hard look on his face, Moroni orders Dewey to rise. Dewey gets out of bed, his knees nearly buckling with fear. Moroni grabs ahold of Dewey, begins tugging him out of his cell. Again, driven by an instinctual, desperate urge to survive, Dewey reaches out, his hands gripping a shelf. The guards continue to yank on him, but Dewey holds with all his strength. The brown tips of his fingers turning white. Dewey yells out in fear as he grapples with Moroni and the other guards. The confrontation gets loud and other inmates begin to stir. Soon they're yelling at the guards to get out to leave Dewey alone. But that only seems to make things worse. Moroni punches Dewey in the side, sending him crashing to the ground. And then, in an instant, the other guards swarm him. They grab his arms, his legs, they mutter curses and racial slurs as they drag Dewey out of his cell. As the guards pull Dewey away, the rest of the cell block comes to life. Hundreds of prisoners start screaming and threatening the guards. And for a moment, Dewey's fears are replaced by a feeling of comfort, knowing that he has the support of hundreds of inmates. And although Dewey can't imagine the punishment he's about to receive, he can tell that his mistreatment has pushed the other inmates over the edge. He's not sure what they'll do next, but something tells him that Attica just passed a point of no return. It's the morning of September 9, 1971 at the Attica Correctional Facility in Western New York. In a long hallway inside the prison, Richard X Clark walks alongside his fellow inmates, as they make their way out of the mess hall. Clark nervously adjusts his glasses. He doesn't like what he sees. This whole morning, the other inmates have had a wild look about them. After what happened to Lee Roy Dewey last night, after he was beaten and hauled away from his cell late at night, the prisoners have looked angrier than they ever have before. And if the prisoners are angry, they may turn to violence. That's the last thing Clark wants any part of. He'll be out of prison in less than a year, having served a four year sentence for armed robbery. It didn't matter that he was innocent. His lawyer told him he was going to serve the time either way, so he should at least plead guilty and get a lighter sentence. It was the bidrist of pills to swallow, but in prison, Clark made the most of his time. He joined up with the black Muslims and eventually became a minister. Now, as one of Attica's religious leaders, he discourages violence. And as he and the other inmates head out toward the yard, he hopes that some fresh air will cool people off. Oppa head, a guard opens the door to an area known as Aetone, one of four tunnels that lead to the prison yards. The brick passage is cramped and dim, and as the man are ushered in, an inmate tapped Clark on the shoulder. They're richer, and they've come for us. Don't be ready, won't you mean, the guards have pissed. The way we cursed them out last night after they got to our door, and got Lemori to the white guy. I don't know what he was doing shoving that guard. Anyways, I'm telling you, they're just waiting to get back at us. Oh, I don't know, friend. They'll probably content with the two men who did the violence. So let's just see. Oh man, Richard, I know you heard it too. People saying that they killed both those guys? No, those are rumors. Just have patience. You'll see everything will be okay. Suddenly the procession comes to a halt in the middle of the tunnel. Prisoners start murmuring, and Clark peers ahead. It's dark and claustrophobic, so Clark calls out to a guard. Excuse me, what's going on up there? Gates locked. Hold on. We'll get you in the yard in a minute. But the prisoner behind Clark pushes forward, a craze looking his eye. See, man, see, man, that's, it's a lie. We're fishing a barrel. They're going to kill us right here, just like door and Lemori. I'm getting out of here. We got to stop them. Now, hold on, friends. Well, let's wait, let's wait. But before he can say another word, the innmates swarm around two prison guards and begin throwing punches. Clark tries to reach one of them, Robert Curtis, who showed leniency during the identification yesterday. But he can't reach him. The tunnel is packed with bodies, and Clark is knocked back as prisoners elbow slams him in the face. It's chaos, a free for all. The prisoners are not only fighting with the guards, but some are fighting each other. His heart pounding, Clark presses himself against the wall of the tunnel, trying to stay out of the growing chaos. There's a good chance this brawl could expand beyond the tunnel. And if it does, there's no telling how far the violence might spread. The Minutes later, William Quinn runs a sweaty hand through his close cropped brown hair. Quinn is one of Atticus guards, and he's standing alone in Times Square, the nickname for the cramped office at the center of the prison. From inside Times Square, he can monitor all four of Atticus prison yards, ABC and D. He can also monitor the four tunnels that connect these yards to the rest of the prison. But right now, everything seemed to have gotten out of control. Over in the A tunnel, there's a crowd of prisoners fighting. It looks like a wild melee. Quinn doesn't understand it. There shouldn't be prisoners in the A tunnel. The prison's super intended order that inmates in the A block be prevented from having time out in the yard. Punishment for how they responded the night before, when two men were taken from themselves. But with chaos exploding in that tunnel, there's only one explanation about how this happened. It looks like someone didn't get the memo. A breakdown of communication. No one told the guards in the tunnel that the gate was locked. Quinn doesn't know what to do. His coerced lives are in danger, but he has been trained for a situation like this. No one has. As he stares helplessly out at the tunnel, behind him a guard bangs on the gate to Times Square. He yells that he's hurt and begs to be let in. Quinn races over, opens the gate, and the guard tumbles through before Quinn slams its shut again. The guard collapses to the ground, blood trickling from his nose, and he warns that the riot in the tunnel is spreading. Prisoners who were out in the yard saw what was happening in the tunnel and forced their way in. One of the guards went down in the fight. He may even be dead. Before Quinn can process this, there's another banging on the gate. He turns and finds a second guard who's begging to be let in. Quinn once again races over and ushers in the guard, who reports that things are growing violent in other yards. Inmates are arming themselves with whatever they can find. It's out of control. Quinn knows there's not much he can do. He has to call for backup, but when he picks up the phone, he doesn't hear anything, not even a dial tone. Maybe other guards are trying to reach the administrators and jamming off the system. Quinn drops the phone, his hands shaking. He tells the other guards that now all they can do is just wait for help to arrive. Their men stare at each other, their eyes wide with terror. Quinn knows that they're safe here in Times Square, but they won't be able to hold out forever. Just then there's a startling crash. Quinn looks up to see the a tunnel gate bursting open, as prisoners race forward with a look of murder in their eyes. Quinn looks left and right, his feet frozen in place. And before he can cry out, a prisoner runs toward him holding a metal pipe. He inmates swings, and the pipe comes crashing down onto Quinn's head. Then everything goes black. Two hours later, Richard X Clark walks across the large open area known as D yard. He gasses across the prison yard amazed by the transformation that's taken hold in such a short time. A group of hostages are huddled against the wall. Some mix of guards and civilian prison workers may be 40 or 50 of them. They look scared and angry, but they appear to be mostly unheard. Nearby, prisoners roam free, glowing with a look of victory. This yard is now theirs, and they can say whatever they want, do what they please, without fearing reprisal from the guards. Clark shakes his head in disbelief. Everything happens so fast. First the chaos and a tunnel, and then the uprising spreading like a fire from one cell block to another. The prisoners arm themselves with whatever they could find. Pipes, broken furniture, even football gear. Then they battled the guards and each other. But when the dust subtle, the inmates stood together as one. Attica was now theirs. It's unthinkable. And now that they're in power, the inmates could force the prison to finally change its ways. But as a religious leader, Clark knows that organization is everything. The inmates have to be disciplined. They need a clear list of demands. They have to be unified. Otherwise, this uprising will turn to anarchy. So Clark calls out to a group of black Muslim inmates, asking them to form a protective circle around the hostages. This is the only bargaining chip the prisoners have, so the hostages have to be shielded from harm. Then Clark approaches a set of tables, where other inmates sit discussing the situation. He's ready to engage his fellow inmates in a spirited conversation about their goals, their strategies, and the fight that lies ahead. Clark smiles with a feeling of deep satisfaction. Because while there may be broken glass under his feet and police sirens in the distance, Clark is confident that together, the inmates of Attica will finally be able to bring about change. Next on American scandal, the standoff intensifies after New York's prison commissioner finally visits Attica. And as the uprising makes headlines across the country, the inmates gain powerful new allies and enemies. From wondering, this is episode one of the Attica Prison Uprising 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 OneGrey Plus in Apple podcasts or in the OneGrey 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 onegrey.com 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 Attica Prison Appalisi, we recommend the book Blood in the Water by Heather Antonson. American scandal is hosted, edited, and executive produced by me Lindsay Graham for Airship, audio editing by Molly Bach, sound design by Derek Barrett, music by Lindsay Graham. This episode is written by Hannibal Diaz, edited by Christina Malsberger. Our senior producer is Gabe Riven, executive producer, our Stephanie Jen's Jenny Lauer Breckman and her nonlopes for one.