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New York attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has called for the release of documents which detail the 1971 Attica prison rebellion and the 39 deaths which took place among inmates and hostages to retake the prison from rioters.
Schneiderman filed a request on Friday, noting that almost all investigation into the bloody incident has ended with very to little knowledge.
The Washington Post quotes him saying, “It is important, both for families directly affected and for future generations, that these historical documents be made available so the public can have a better understanding of what happened and how we can prevent future tragedies.”
Bernard S. Meyer, a Long Island lawyer, has been calling for the documents’ release since 1975 when thorough research showed that police efforts to retake the prison were ridden with mistakes and possible misconduct. Summaries of the incident from state officials omit many important details, sometimes even the location of bodies.
Theories that the government is running a grand cover-up come often. One former Attica prosecutor, Malcolm H. Bell, claims that he gave up on the case when he realized officials were determined not to prosecute police involved in the prison riot.
Lawyer Jonathan E. Gradess told Buffalo News that details have been kept even from family members of those killed in the prison riot.
He said, “They’re just like victims of violent crimes everywhere. Their most important and burning question is: What happened? What was my husband wearing? Where was he? How did he die?”