[Ppnews] Attica Rebellion - New Recordings Reveal Nixon, Rockefeller Praise For Murder

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Sep 13 12:51:56 EDT 2011

On Anniversary of Attica Rebellion New Recordings 
Reveal Nixon, Rockefeller Praise For Crackdown


It was 40 years ago today when New York State 
police raided a state prison in Attica, New York, 
ending a prison uprising to protest inhumane 
conditions at the facility. For four days the 
unarmed prisoners held 39 prison guards hostage. 
On Sept. 13, then New York Gov. Nelson 
Rockefeller ordered armed state troopers to raid 
the prison. Troopers then shot indiscriminately 
more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition. In the end, 
39 men would die, including 29 prisoners and 10 
guards. After the shooting stopped, police beat 
and tortured scores of more prisoners. Newly 
uncovered audio recordings reveal that President 
Richard Nixon enthusiastically supported the 
violent operation when he spoke by phone with New 
York Governor Rockefeller on the day of the raid. 
Rockefeller confides in the president that before 
the raid he thought it was possible that as many 
as 300 prisoners could be killed, but went ahead 
with the operation anyway. This tape was obtained 
by University of New Hampshire at Manchester historian Theresa Lynch.

Operator: “I have Governor Rockefeller for you, sir. There you are.”

Richard Nixon: “Hello.”

Nelson Rockefeller: “Mr. President.”

Nixon: “I know you’ve had a hard day, but I want 
you to know that I just back you to the hilt, and 
I was sitting here talking to Bob Haldeman. I 
didn’t get your call because I’ve had a Cabinet 
meeting and then I had a meeting with business 
leaders right afterwards and I’ve been ­ I just 
got out. But the courage you showed and the 
judgment in not granting amnesty, it was right, 
and I don’t care what the hell the papers or 
anybody else says. I don’t care what they say. I 
think that you had to do it that way, because if 
you would have granted amnesty in this case, it 
would have meant that you would have had prisons 
in an uproar all over this country.”

Rockefeller: “That’s right. Absolutely.”

Nixon: “You did the right thing. It’s a tragedy 
that these poor fellows are shot, but I just want 
you to know that’s my view, and I’ve told the 
troops around here they’re to back that right to the hilt.”

Rockefeller: “Well, aren’t you great, Mr. 
President. I only called you because I wanted to 
alert you that we were going in, and when we went 
in, we couldn’t tell whether all 39 hostages 
would be killed and maybe two or three hundred prisoners.”

Throughout the tapes, President Nixon discusses 
the racial component of the uprising, describing 
the prison rebellion as, “basically a black 
thing.” Nixon would go on to erroneously state 
that all of the victims of crackdown were African 
American, downplaying the multi-racial leadership 
within Attica at the time of the uprising.

Nixon: “Tell me this, is this ­ are these 
primarily blacks that you’re dealing with?”

Rockefeller: “Oh, yes, the whole thing was led by the blacks.”

Nixon: “I’ll be darned. Are all the prisoners 
that were killed blacks? Or are there any...”

Rockefeller: “I haven’t got that report, but I’d 
have to ­ I would say just off hand, yes. We did 
though, only when they were in the process of 
murdering the guards, or when they were attacking 
our people as they came in to get the guards.

Nixon: “You had to do it.”

Rockefeller: “And otherwise we recaptured all the 
cell blocks and so forth without shooting a shot. 
And no troopers were wounded. One of them ­ well, 
one of them was in the leg. But..."

Nixon: “Only one trooper was wounded?”

Rockefeller: “That’s right.”

Nixon: “Good, good, good.”

Rockefeller: “It really was a beautiful operation.”

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