(WBEN) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has asked a state judge in Wyoming County to unseal documents about the 1971 riot and retaking of Attica state prison.
Schneiderman wants the court to open hundreds of detailed pages about the five September days when inmates took control of the maximum-security prison until state troopers and guards stormed the facility.
"Attica was a tragic event in the history of our state," Schneiderman said, in a statement. "It is important, both for families directly affected and for future generations, that these historical documents be made available so the public can have a better understanding of what happened and how we can prevent future tragedies."
Vic Baker covered the riots as a TV reporter in the 1970's, he recalled an interview with former New York Governor and US Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. "I remember asking him, if he had the opportunity to deal with Attica over again, what would he have done differently? Without Hesitation, he said to me, 'I wouldn't have dont a thing differently. They took the prison by force, we had to take it back, we had to do what we did. It's unfortunate lives were lost, but the prison had to be retaken.'"
Schneiderman says it's time to bring transparency to the incident. The sealed documents are part of a 1975 report by a special commission that examined New York's efforts to investigate the riot and its aftermath.
"That was a confused mess of a tragedy, and I don't think you're gonna be able to sort out one single answer to it," Baker said. "People are going to have mixed reactions to it as they have had over the decades. It is long overdue for release, It's been 40 years, I don't think it's going to do anybody harm to know the truth."
In all, 11 staff and 32 inmates died, all but four shot by authorities.