On the anniversary of “Attica”
Today’s newspaper will hit news stands today, September 9, 2020. Why is this date still significant?
Well, cities across America are experiencing large-scale revolts. These revolts are lasting for weeks on end.
These revolts are eternally springing from the backlash of black citizens being subjected to excessive and even deadly force at the hands of their government. Even peaceful and largely white protestors are being met in the street by secret police forces, dressed out in riot gear, similar to how a special operations response team (S.O.R.T.) at a correctional facility might meet a full-scale prison riot.
The protests roundly charge those who should be enforcing the law with breaking it. The Attica Correctional Facility revolt appears, these days, to be playing out before our eyes in the streets of American cities.
The people being put down, instead of inmates at a correction facility, are free citizens of a free country this time. These citizens are beginning to feel like inmates, if that matters.
The young among you may not remember Attica, or even why aggrieved inmates or even citizens will scream, “Attica.” Attica’s uprising was a singular event virtually unheard of in American culture, circa 1971.
Authorities faced something in the Attica inmates they had not, heretofore, encountered. They faced a population of black and white prisoners, unified, if only for a brief period.
The inmates combined against their perceived, common enemy. They acted in concert, as brothers, in spite of the racial divide.
The uprising was eventually crushed, violently and brutally. It was believed among the causes of the uprising were the heightened tensions from prison overcrowding and inmates claiming to be denied basic sanitary needs.
It has been nearly 50-years since the prison uprising at Attica. The cry of “Attica” still stands as a symbol of a government and a system out of control. We have heard that cry again on American streets like Louisville, Kentucky; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and even Kenosha, Wisconsin.
That one uprising in the early seventies was far from Attica’s only claim to fame. Attica housed some of the most famous inmates of its day.
The “Son of Sam” serial killer, David Berkowitz, was housed there initially. He killed six people and wounded many others in New York City in the late 1970s.
Joel Rifkin, another famous serial killer, spent over four years in Attica. Much of his time there was spent in solitary confinement. He was eventually transferred to the Clinton Correctional Facility.
Willie Sutton, maybe the greatest bank robber of all time, was housed there in the late 1920s. He robbed 100-banks and escaped from prison on three occasions resulting in his being nicknamed “Slick Willie.”
Reporters, years later would refer to one of our presidents, William Jefferson Clinton, as “Slick Willie.” They were stealing that reference from its original owner and applying it to Clinton.
There will always only be one “Slick Willie” in this editor’s opinion. The slickest of all Willie’s was Willie Sutton. Clinton’s slickness was “child’s play” compared to Willie Sutton.
We have before discussed the importance of the study of history and learning the lessons from it that are there for us to grasp should we be willing, and sufficiently industrious. We have seen how a citizenry put upon and mistreated will often respond throughout history. It isn’t ever very pretty.
We are seeing communities unite against an ubiquitous perception of police misconduct directing disproportionate force against the black community. We are seeing the protests include both black and white citizens, united.
We are watching on television each evening protesting citizens, black and white, beginning to perceive its government as an enemy of the people. We are watching, again on television, a governmental response evincing it perceives its citizens as an enemy army, not a constitutionally protected peaceable assemblage.
This government is encountering these citizens on a figurative battlefield. They are both dressed and armed like the battlefield is a literal and not figurative one.
We have a holster-sniffer, police wannabe in Kyle Rittenhouse, arming himself with military grade weaponry and running across the Wisconsin state line to volunteer his services to the police attempting to quell the uprising from the Jacob Blake shooting. This seventeen year old with a long history on social media of supporting “Blue-lives matter” propaganda, shoots and kills two innocent people, one of whom was bravely risking his life to disarm the young miscreant.
Kyle Rittenhouse is charged from the incident with serious felonies. Right-wing pundits are hailing him as a hero.
His defense attorneys have debuted a constitutional defense used differently than I have ever before seen. They argue he had a right to both keep and bear the military grade weaponry in support of his traipsing to a neighboring state (Wis.) to join a militia in the throws of quelling a revolt in a state in which he wasn’t even an citizen.
The Second Amendment reads literally, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The proposed defense has a huge problem regarding the facts involving Kyle Rittenhouse.
You see, the 2nd Amendment was to preserve the right of citizens to resist a corrupt government, and to even overthrow one, if found necessary to preserve a free state. The Militia was to be “well regulated.”
Here, Kyle Rittenhouse has grabbed his assault rifle and joined in with the police. There are no facts of which I am aware that the Kenosha police or the national guard requested help from Rittenhouse or his Illinois militia.
Rittenhouse opened fire on the citizens of a free state, Wisconsin, a state of which he wasn’t even a resident. Rittenhouse’s actions threatened, not protected, valuable tenets of freedom. For these reasons, Rittenhouse’s defense, though novel, is fatally flawed.
What will we see next on our television screens? We are seeing both black and white citizens united. We are seeing an united population in many cities speaking and protesting against a common enemy.
These citizens are acting together as brothers. These protests are spawned from the heightened tensions from American “inmates” claiming to be denied rather basic needs of being seen by the government as people and not as a color.
We are beginning to hear cries of “Attica, Attica” coming from the streets of American cities. We know from history how this story ends. It isn’t pretty.
You can take this for whatever you find it worth, but THAT’S THE LONG VERSION!