Detailed article about the Central Park Five and the upcoming Netflix series of same.
How a City in Fear Brutalized the Central Park Five
This is a story of the biggest story of its day, a crime that set a high-water mark for depravity, an urban atrocity that caused existential hand-wringing for America’s biggest city.
It was a story that — over 30 years — changed from solid to liquid to gas, all but vanishing.
“When They See Us,” a four-part series premiering May 31 on Netflix directed by Ava DuVernay, is based on the lives of five men who were wrongfully convicted and sent to prison as teenagers for gang-raping and nearly killing Trisha Meili, a woman who was jogging in Central Park in 1989. Their convictions were vacated in 2002, and the city paid $41 million in 2014 to settle their civil rights lawsuit. Hated by one generation as brutalizers, they were hailed by the next as the brutalized.
Few crimes leave permanent marks on anyone other than the people involved. From its first moments, the Central Park case had been a global cultural phenomenon, its meaning debated and anguished over by urban scholars, politicians, ordinary citizens. A real estate developer, not widely known outside New York in 1989, used it for one of his earliest forays into civic affairs, placing full-page ads to proclaim his fury. “You better believe that I hate the people who took this girl and raped her brutally,” that developer, Donald J. Trump, said at a standing room-only news conference. “You better believe it.”
Man, I sure remember it from the time. They were presumed guilty as hell, and I will admit I figured they were. It was an awful, atrocious crime, and certainly deserves condemnation.
As these five were brought forth there were all sorts of discussions about youth gone wrong, and a phenomenon called "wilding". Again, they were absolutely presumed guilty. The exhortation from one DJ trump was barely noticed at the time, at least here.
There was a tremendous collective feeling of shame and introspective thought when they were finally found not guilty.
Actually the Netflix series is titled "When they see us". The creator/ writer/ director went on the daily show and one thing she spoke about was why she didn't call it the central park 5. You can search for the video clip on YouTube as the daily show puts them up there, but to paraphrase it she didn't want to use the name the media gave them and she wanted to draw attention to how when they see "us" ie black people it's so often in a negative light and how these five were just boys but the media didn't portray them that way.
Found it for you guys. She starts talking about the name right away
I felt it was a political moniker that dehumanized them, made you hear and not understand... I couldn't help but wonder why some boys were allowed to rough house and act stupid and others are criminalized ... I wanted to ask the question what do you see when you see us
It's a good interview to watch, only 8 minutes of your time.
I watched a documentary about this and it was tragic how the kids were railroaded, detained for hours, not allowed to sleep, pressured to 'confess' before the other guys did, because the last guy who refused to confess would be the one left holding the bag, promised they'd be able to go home if they just confessed - really, a textbook on how NOT to interrogate suspects.
And yes, our dear POTUS published a full page ad in the newspapers demanding these five kids get executed, something he forgot when he criticized Biden for not apologizing for helping to pass the Crime Bill in 1994.
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