BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The only inmate convicted of murder following the 1971 Attica prison uprising has died in Canada, where he had made a name as a civil rights and peace activist.
The body of John Boncore, 61, was found March 13 in his home on the Adams Lake Indian Reserve in British Columbia, Barb McLintock of the Coroners Service of British Columbia said Monday.
He reportedly had fallen earlier nearby, she said, but the cause of death has yet to be released because the investigation is ongoing.
“There is nothing to suggest foul play,” she said.
Boncore, a Mohawk Indian who was born in Buffalo, was known as John B. Hill at Attica when inmates took control of the maximum-security prison in rural western New York. Thirty-two inmates and 11 civilian employees died during the five-day siege, including 10 hostages and 29 inmates who died when state troopers stormed the prison’s D Yard on Sept. 13, 1971.
In 1975, a state Supreme Court jury in Buffalo convicted Boncore of murder in the beating death of Corrections Officer William Quinn. He was sentenced to at least 20 years in prison.
Boncore, who had denied attacking Quinn with a two-by-four as alleged, was granted clemency in 1976 by then-Gov. Hugh Carey amid a probe of the state’s handling of the uprising. Carey also pardoned seven other inmates convicted of crimes during the riot and dismissed pending disciplinary actions against 20 law enforcement officers.
Following his release from prison, Boncore became active in several causes and eventually moved to Canada, Sharon Fischer, an activist and legal assistant from the City of Tonawanda, outside Buffalo, told The Buffalo News.
Boncore was arrested on a charge of obstructing a peace officer in March 2009 in Calgary, Alberta, after trying to make a “citizen’s arrest” of former President George W. Bush for alleged war crimes. A provincial court judge granted him a conditional discharge a year later, the Calgary Sun reported at the time.