November 13, 2011
Thoughts about "Disturbing the Universe" or other future film options
I hope many of you enjoyed last week's movie about William Kunstler's remarkable life as a lawyer and activist. I welcome comments about any aspects of the movie (including whether the picture reprinted here is conclusive proof of child abuse -- by both Bill Kunstler and whomever snapped this picture). I especially encourage everyone to spend some time exploring the full stories of the many (in)famous cases and causes in which Kunstler was involved. Of particular concern and interest for the themes of this class is the full story of the Attica Prison riot, which this Wikipedia entry summarizes this way:
The Attica Prison Riot occurred at the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York, United States in 1971. The riot was based in part upon prisoners' demands for better living conditions. On September 9, 1971, responding, in part, to the death of prisoner George Jackson, a black radical activist prisoner who had been shot to death by corrections officers in California's San Quentin Prison on August 21, about 1,000 of the Attica prison's approximately 2,200 inmates rebelled and seized control of the prison, taking 33 staff hostage. During the following four days of negotiations, authorities agreed to 28 of the prisoners' demands, but would not agree to demands for complete amnesty from criminal prosecution for the prison takeover or for the removal of Attica's superintendent. On the order of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, state police took back control of the prison. When the uprising was over, at least 39 people were dead, including ten correctional officers and civilian employees.
Though there are a number of films and documentaries about Attica, I feel we have already had our share of prison-oriented movie experiences. Consequently, I also want students in the comments to consider making recommendations or suggestions for other movie options for any future class showings. (There is always Justice Scalia's favorite movie, "My Cousin Vinny," but I suspect and hope most of you have already seen that one.)