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I saw The Central Park Five on Monday.
To say that the story of these boys (now men) was a travesty of justice is a gross understatement. This was an utter miscarriage of justice, a totally orchestrated train wreck. What happened is a case study of how the system can fail on all levels. This was not just a failure of the criminal justice system. The media was equally culpable. The public was complicit as well.
What galls me the most is New York City, my city, has not owned up to the mistakes that were made and has never apologized to these men for the injustices they faced. Make no mistake about it this can happen again. A confession may not necessarily be a confession, especially if it’s not in line with the evidence. Sometimes a confession is really coercion.
As much as I want to go into more detail and get deep into this subject I do not want to spoil it for you. All I can say is go see the film. If it does not come to a theater near you, it is scheduled to be on cable TV via on demand next year. The book is written by Susan Burns, daughter of co-director Ken Burns.
"On the night of April 19, 1989, 28-year-old Trisha Meili was raped and beaten nearly to death while jogging through New York City’s Central Park. Five boys age 14-16—Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Kharey Wise, and Yusef Salaam—who were allegedly harassing people in the park, or wilding, as police called it, were convicted of the crime after being bullied and manipulated by police into confessing. In 2002, convicted rapist and murderer Matias Reyes confessed to committing the crime alone, and DNA evidence matched his story. But by then, the boys had already served lengthy prison terms. In 2003, the wrongfully convicted men sued the city of New York, but the case has yet to be settled. The story is chronicled in the documentary The Central Park Five, directed by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns, and David McMahon"
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Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.