The prisoners requested a group of sympathetic free civilians be brought in to act as witnesses and go-betweens with the authorities; Rockefeller, hoping to tamp down the rebellion, agreed.
Clarence B. Jones, a lawyer and former advisor to Dr. King who was also the publisher of the Black newspaper, the Amsterdam News, was one of the observers. He retold (with co-author Stuart Connelly) the Attica events as he lived them in Uprising: Understanding Attica, Revolution, and the Incarceration State. How he came to be chosen by the prisoners is an appealing story. This wasn't about his connection to Dr. King.
So Jones allowed himself to be transported to the prison and, alongside several dozen others acceptable to the prisoners, visited the insurgents. The longer prisoners controlled the yard, the longer the demand list grew.
Jones was horrified. This wasn't going to happen after two guards had died -- and the most likely outcome would be a massacre of prisoners. He describes his introduction to the prisoners.
Over two tense days, the observers tried to avert bloodshed. The authorities made some feints toward agreeing to a few demands, but the situation was at an impasse. Rockefeller feared his presidential prospects were dribbling away as the nation watched him fail to crush the rebellion. And so, four days after the revolt began, the guards and state police came in with tear gas, clubs, snipers and guns blazing. Ten hostages and 29 inmates died, all apparently killed by the invading prison authorities.
Jones describes his last visit to the yard before the massacre.
The brutal re-occupation of Attica was the inaugural scene in a decades long racist backlash against Black gains, characterized by "law and order," "tough on crime," mandatory sentencing, and mass incarceration.
The second half of Uprising deals with the subsequent investigations of the Attica revolt and the continuing struggle against mass incarceration. Jones affirms what he draws from the experience working with Dr. King:
He's still alive and, I suspect, appreciating the contemporary struggles of the Movement for Black Lives.