Ken Burns TV - The Guardian online - USA Today online - Lucy Mangan - Oprah Winfrey Presents: When They See Us Now 2019 - When They See Us 2019
On the night of April 19, 1989, a jogger was brutally beaten and raped in New York City’s Central Park. Five teenagers, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Kharey Wise were convicted of the crime. Ken Burns The Central Park Five I & II, caption, PBS 2012
That summer, a serial rapist had been terrorizing the Upper East Side. On August 5 1989 he was finally caught. His name was Matias Reyes. ibid.
The City of New York’s subpoena of Ken Burns, the documentary filmmaker whose recent project covered the wrongful conviction and eventual exoneration of five men accused of raping and beating a woman in Central Park, opens up a painful point in New York City history, and raises questions about the strength and reach of New York’s journalist shield laws. It should also open up a demand for real changes to police investigation and interrogation tactics – to preserve the rights of criminal defendants, and to protect crime victims.
More than 20 years ago, the Central Park jogger rape case roiled New York City, stoking racial tensions and fanning the flames of widespread fear and frustration with pervasive crime and violence. The jogger, a 28-year-old investment banker, was raped and brutally beaten; she barely survived. A group of five black and Latino teenage boys was implicated in the crime. Four of the five confessed on videotape. The boys later recanted, but were all convicted. The media storm around the crime and the trial latched onto the narrative of roving gangs of kids from the projects going ‘wilding’, attacking unsuspecting victims in the park and robbing them, beating them or worse.
More than a decade later, DNA evidence and the confession of the man tied to it proved the innocence of the Central Park Five. They were released from prison and saw their convictions vacated. Three of the five – now men who spent much of their adult lives in prison – filed a lawsuit against the city in 2003. It’s in the context of that lawsuit that the Burns footage – footage that, ironically, the city did its best to prevent from being shot in the first place – has been subpoenaed. The Guardian online article 5th October 2012
Five black and Hispanic boys were convicted that year in the rape and grisly beating of a white woman jogging in the park, and they went on to serve 6 to 13 years in prison before their convictions were thrown out in 2002 because of evidence linking someone else to the crime.
They sued police and prosecutors for $250 million. But the lawsuit has languished for a decade with no resolution in sight.
Now, a growing chorus of lawmakers is asking New York City to settle with the 5 men. And the pressure is likely to build in the coming weeks with the broadcast of a documentary on the case by filmmaker Ken Burns. It airs on PBS on April 16. USA Today online article 6th April 2013
When They See Us: a dense, fast-moving series that examines not just the effects of systemic racism but the effects of all sorts of disenfranchisement (though you could argue they all have that same root cause) on people with the boys’ background. The lack of money that leads to inadequate lawyers and mothers unable to visit their sons incarcerated in distant places. The lifetime of fear and vulnerability that causes one parent to encourage his son to sign the confession so they can leave the station and sort things out later. The powerlessness in the face of an authority that doesn’t look like you or care about you. Lucy Mangan, review of ‘When They See Us’, The Guardian 31 May 2019
Tonight: the harrowing case of the brutal beating and rape of the Central Park jogger that gripped the nation. And the wrongfully accused five young black men sent to prison for years. Oprah Winfrey Presents: When They See Us Now, Oprah, Netflix 2019
In the Spring of 1989 28-year-old Patricia Meili was found beaten, sexually assaulted and barely alive in New York’s Central Park. ibid.
Detectives influenced by the head of the Manhattan district’s sex crimes unit Linda Fairstein coerced the young men, then just seventh and eight graders, into signing confessions. Though no DNA, fingerprints or any physical evidence tied any one of them to the crime all five were sentenced to between five and fifteen years in prison at juvenile detention centres. ibid.
White female adult severe injuries to the face and body. When They See Us I, rozzer, Netflix 2019
And to think we were going to release these animals to family court and put them back on the streets. ibid. Fairstein
What do you know about rape? ibid. rozzer’s cross-examination
I know my son. Ain’t no way he did this, no way. Right, see he’s a good boy. ibid. father
You left a child unaccompanied by a guardian or a lawyer with these men in this room for hours. Shame on you. ibid. mother to Fairstein
They only had one goal: to smash, hurt, rob, stop, rape. When They See Us II, journalist’s hyperbole
You better believe that I hate the people that took this girl and raped her brutally. You better believe it. ibid. Trump on television
The People’s case is weak. ibid. defense dude
There was no solid evidence linking the defendants to the crime. ibid. news report
They got him in a isolation room there. He having a tough time up there. When They See Us III, mother
It’s the racket they running in them facilities, that’s the real crime: you know one ten-minute phone call from Yusuf costs $23. Where am I going to get that from? ibid.
I’m not meant to be here. When They See Us IV, victim back inside
Let me know if you can do anything for me. ibid. bent screw