Elizabeth Marsha Fink (1945–2015)
Born to communist parents in Brooklyn, human rights lawyer Elizabeth Fink (1945–2015) spent her life defending victims of state violence. Her longest campaign was for the rebels at Attica, whom she and her paralegal Frank “Big Black” Smith represented for thirty years. Their efforts decisively discredited the state’s story and proved that guards, police, and state troops killed and tortured unarmed prisoners during the retaking of the prison and tampered with evidence immediately after. Smith, who had been head of security during the D-yard occupation, was singled out for abuse. Fink, Smith, and their team eventually won a $12 million settlement on behalf of some five hundred surviving Attica Brothers, their families, and the estates of twenty-nine murdered inmates.
The key to the Attica Brothers Legal Defense case was a trove of photographs and videos that Fink had, in her words, expropriated from a New York State warehouse. Today Fink’s estate, guided by journalist and documentary filmmaker Michael Hull, wishes to place this material in public hands—and it is in that spirit that we present a selection of those photos below. As a warning, many of these images show the brutal reconquest of the prison. In addition to the football helmets, toilet tissue armbands, and broom handle headdresses cataloged by Jayne Cortez in “National Security,” there are the bodies of the injured and the dead. For more information about Fink, the legal defense, and the individual images, visit the Fink archive’s website “Attica Massacre.”