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Attica! Attica! – Doug Liman to take on the 1971 Prison Riot

Posted by LiveFor on February 17, 2010

Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) and screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher are teaming to re-create the 1971 Attica state prison uprising according to THR.

The four-day confrontation between prisoners and guards inspired Al Pacino’s famous chant of “Attica! Attica!” in “Dog Day Afternoon.”

Liman brings a personal connection to the project, as his father, the late Arthur Liman, served as chief counsel to the New York State Special Commission on Attica Prison and co-authored the commission’s report chastising then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and prison authorities for their role in the incident.

According to wiki the riot was based in part upon prisoners’ demands for better living conditions. At the time, inmates were given one shower per week and one roll of toilet paper per month. On September 9, 1971, responding to the death of prisoner George Jackson, a black radical prisoner who had been shot to death by corrections officers in California’s San Quentin Prison on August 21st while armed and attempting to escape, about 1,000 of the prison’s approximately 2,200 prisoners rioted and seized control of the prison, taking thirty-three correction officers hostage. The State began negotiating with the prisoners.

During the following four days of negotiations, authorities agreed to 28 of the prisoners’ demands, but would not agree to demands for complete amnesty from criminal prosecution for the prison takeover, or for the removal of Attica’s superintendent. Under order of then Governor Nelson Rockefeller, state police took back control of the prison. When the uprising was over at least 39 people were dead, including ten correction officers and civilian employees.

In a recent blog posting, Liman described visiting the prison.

“The tour was astounding,” Liman wrote. “We followed the steps the prisoners took as they overwhelmed the guards; saw the radiators they ripped off the walls and the gates they smashed open with them. We left with so many stories, and names and contacts of people who were there to continue our research.”

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