Subjects: Race Power and Privilege, American Studies
On September 13, 1971 the State of New York shot and killed 39 of its own citizens, injured hundreds more, and tortured the survivors. More than 1,200 men were stripped naked, forced to crawl across a muddy cellblock yard, and then run through a gauntlet of state employees who beat them with nightsticks, rifle butts, pickaxe handles, and other weapons. They were forced to run barefoot over broken glass and kicked down stairwells.
Many of them did not receive medical attention for weeks, if at all.
The horrors of that day still haunt the handful of men who remain with us to tell the story. For fifty years their tales have been met with disbelief and scorn by many, including some who claim the retaking was an orderly affair and guns were used sparingly.
That narrative is impossible to maintain in light of this evidence of the brutality - evidence that proves the story the Attica Brothers have been telling all along.
The evidence presented in this film has been hidden by the State of New York for 50 years. Radical lawyer Elizabeth Fink found the photos and videos in a state warehouse when she represented the Attica Brothers.
Director Michael Hull worked with Fink to digitize the archive for preservation and distribution. Betrayal at Attica uses only material from this collection, and Fink’s final interview, conducted one month before her death.
As part of the process of creating this film, the entire Fink archive has been declared to be in the public domain, and Hull has provided access to historians, scholars, filmmakers, artists, and students.