Former prosecutor recalls the Attica crimes that went unpunished
"The police and other officials on the thirteenth of September, 1971, saw all those bodies lying around and all the other people gravely-wounded by gun shot, they knew they had a problem," said Malcolm Bell. The author of "The Attica Turkey Shoot:Carnage, Cover-Up and the Pursuit of Justice," holds a vast working knowledge of the prison uprising. The attorney was tasked with prosecuting any members of law enforcement who may have broken the law as state police led the assault on the prison that left 128 people shot and 39 dead.
"So many people, even today, do not believe that the police shot the dead hostages," Bell told WBFO. It's part of the muddled legacy of the Attica uprising where the path to uncovering the truth was lined with obstacles. Bell maintains a grand jury would have indicted some police, but the investigation was eventually brought to a halt. After attempting to use government channels to keep the case alive, Bell became a whistle blower as he provided the New York Times with details.
Fifty years later, Bell says police "were under orders from the troop commander John Monahan not to indulge in a ‘turkey shoot,’ not to go shooting fish in a barrel." Instead hundreds of rounds of ammunition were fired.
"They (police), essentially, rioted. I use that in the technical sense. There was a contagion.”