The Central Park Five
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The Central Park Five

Tuesday, July 29 at 8:00 p.m.

The acclaimed documentary by Kens Burns reveals the untold story of one of New York City’s most horrific crimes.

"The Central Park Five" focuses on the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989.

Directed and produced by Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns, the film chronicles the Central Park Jogger case, for the first time from the perspective of the five teenagers whose lives were upended by this miscarriage of justice.

On April 20, 1989, the body of a woman barely clinging to life was discovered in Central Park. Within days, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise confessed to her rape and beating after many hours of aggressive interrogation at the hands of seasoned homicide detectives. The police announced to a press hungry for sensational crime stories that the young men had been part of a gang of teenagers who were out “wilding,” assaulting joggers and bicyclists in Central Park that evening.

The ensuing media frenzy was met with a public outcry for justice. The young men were tried as adults and convicted of rape, despite inconsistent and inaccurate confessions, DNA evidence that excluded them, and no eyewitness accounts that connected any of them to the victim. The five served their complete sentences, between 6 and 13 years, before another man, serial rapist Matias Reyes, admitted to the crime, and DNA testing supported his confession.

The film illuminates how law enforcement, social institutions and media undermined the very rights of the individuals they were designed to safeguard and protect.

In 2002, based upon Matias Reyes’s confession, a judge vacated the original convictions of the Central Park Five. A year later, the men filed civil lawsuits against the City of New York, and the police officers and prosecutors who had worked toward their conviction. That lawsuit remains unresolved.

Among those interviewed in the film are: The Central Park Five and members of their families; New York City Mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins; journalists Jim Dwyer, Natalie Byfield and LynNell Hancock; the Reverend Calvin Butts; and historian Craig Steven Wilder.

Pictured above: Yusef Salaam enters a New York City Courtroom. Courtesy: Daily News.
Pictured top right (l-r): Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Antron McCray taken Nov 15, 2012. Credit: Simon Luethi.
At bottom: A 1989 New York Daily News front page. Courtesy: Daily News.