The Central Park 5. A true story about a Caucasian woman, who was jogging in Central Park back in 1989, was attacked: brutally beaten and raped. The rapist went free, while 5 young men were captured, arrested, and charged for the crime.

There were 5 young men; 4 African-American and 1 Hispanic, ages 14-16, that just so happened to be in the park at the same time as the woman was found. They were:

  • Antron McCray, 15
  • Kevin Richardson, 14
  • Yusef Salaam, 15
  • Raymond Santana, 14
  • Korey Wise, 16 
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Actors that played “The Central Park 5” in the movie.

They were arrested and coerced into being charged with a crime that they didn’t commit. Ava DuVernay took this true, but heart-breaking story and produced it for Netflix called When They See Us. Article here and here.

There has been a push to watch this 4-part docuseries b/c this story needs to be heard and told. First, it’s a damn shame that these then young men, now men, suffered so much for a crime they didn’t commit.

It’s truly sad that they lost their freedom, time with their families, growth as young men, and a true shot at life b/c the police, justice system, and prosecutors were too lazy or bull-headed to do their jobs properly.

After two trials, all five boys were falsely convicted and served prison terms of six to 13 years.

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But a judge vacated their convictions in 2002 after another man confessed to the crime and DNA tests confirmed his guilt.

While these men are free now, it doesn’t take away the hurt, pain, suffering, brutality, civil rights violations, emotional, psychological, or physical abuse that they suffered for something they didn’t do.

The “Exonerated Five” were then awarded $41 million, more than a decade later.


Watching the Docuseries:

Ava DuVernay states:

  • While many might choose to watch all five hours in one sitting that method might now work for all.
  • I shared it with a bunch of people and some people really need to take breaks after and some people want to power through.
  • There were people that couldn’t watch that straight through and it was only 100 minutes, she said. But Netflix gives you the luxury of being able to do it in a space and at a time when you’re comfortable.
  • It’s always there. And I think that’s what this offering is. Hopefully, people will engage with it where and when they want.
  • A lot of the crime dramas deal with the sensational element. They deal with the spectacle of the crime, the spectacle of the loss. Family dramas usually have [the] nuance or are a bit slower
  • I tried to put those together in a way that I don’t feel I’ve seen a lot of, especially applied to black people.
  • This is true. This is real. This has political repercussions. 

There has been one major fallout since “The Central Park 5’s” reappearance in the news and the docuseries hit Netflix. 

Linda Fairstein, a prosecutor that helped put those young men away back in 1989, was recently dropped from her book deal and she resigned from her current job due to complaints from her coworkers. Article here.

Donald Trump, the current 45th president of the United States, took out a full-page ad in the newspaper back in 1989, stating that the death penalty should be reestablished. Article here.

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45’s full-page ad in 1989.

Elizabeth Lederer, a lecturer and prosector in 1989 on “The Central Park 5” case, who also had a personal hand in prosecuting those 5 young men, has been forced to resign by black law students on Columbia University’s campus. Article here.

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Recommendation:

It’s taken a lot to write this b/c I can’t quite gather my feelings about it. To date, I’ve watched two episodes. My heart breaks while watching. 

It’s a lot emotionally and you definitely feel it. I haven’t gotten to the 4th part, which is Korey Wise’s part. Seeing him just be there for his friend and end up in this mess… I just… Whew! 

Those men lived it. My mom says to remember that it happened already. I get that, but what bothers me so much is that it still happens. Think about Kalief Browder, which is what I imagine Korey Wise went through. I just… 

With the political climate the way it is when it comes to police, the justice system, crimes, black and brown people, the media… It really could have been any one of my relatives or friends. That scares me. 😳😳

However, I am glad that Ave DuVernay told this to bring awareness, to educate us, and to give us pause. 🙌🏾🙌🏾 It has already been labeled as the most watched series in Netflix history. 

If you haven’t already… please watch it. Tell your friends and family to watch it. Have that difficult law enforcement conversation with your children. The more they know, the better off they will be‼