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Crime'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters

20:20  06 june  2019
20:20  06 june  2019 Source:   northjersey.com

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In Ava DuVernay's new four-part Netflix series " When They See Us ," the horrific odyssey the five endured is shown over 25 years, from the 1989 night they The case still echoes today in no small part to recent instances of exonerated, railroaded defendants and by who occupies the White House.

'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters
'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters

America peeled back a scab of its racist past this week. And, once again, we learned that the leftover wounds from the Central Park 5 case are still festering.

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He was still shaking at his desk hours later. “You just wonder what was in their mind and what they see in me when I’m just trying to be as good as I could be In Ava DuVernay’s new four-part Netflix series “ When They See Us ”, the horrific odyssey the five endured is shown over 25 years, from the 1989

New York Today|Why the Central Park Five Matter . The Times columnist Jim Dwyer covered the case for years. He said it showed how the criminal justice It’s a four-part Netflix mini-series called “ When They See Us ,” directed by Ava DuVernay — a lightly fictionalized retelling of the case (similar

Actually, they may have worsened.

The occasion was the broadcast premiere of the four-part, Netflix miniseries, “When They See Us” by Ava DuVernay. The film, which blends real events and characters with some scenes and dialogue that is invented by the DuVernay and her screenwriters, chronicles the brutal rape of a white, 28-year-old female investment banker in Central Park in April 1989 and the subsequent investigation, conviction, imprisonment and — years later — complete exoneration of five black and Latino boys.

'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters© Bebeto Matthews, AP Surrounded by family and supporters, three of five men exonerated in the Central Park jogger rape case stand before microphones, Raymond Santana, second from left front, Yusef Salaam, center, and Kevin Richardson, second from right front, at a news conference in front of City Hall, Friday June 27, 2014 in New York. The New York City comptroller said Thursday that he has approved a tentative $40 million settlement with the five men, wrongly convicted in the 1989 Central Park jogger attack. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

It a chilling story that begins with a horrific crime and continues with an equally horrific miscarriage of justice. It is also a story still burdened three decades later by unanswered questions and divergent opinions on where the truth really lies.

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“ When They See Us ,” a series based on the story of the Central Park Five , written and produced by Ava DuVernay, has been Netflix’s most-watched The show ’s success highlights the genre’s power to shape public perception. But if the series is a viewer’s first or only exposure to the Central Park case

Following the ratings success of Netflix’s limited series “ When They See Us ”, Oprah Winfrey sits down to interview the Central Park Five : Antron McCray

“It was, to me, probably one of the most shameful periods of civic life in New York,” said Walter Fields, a New Jersey-based civil rights activist.

Fields, who grew up in Hackensack, called the Central Park 5 case “a rush to judgment” that helped to perpetuate a growing fear of “racialized crime.”

From the start, the case of the Central Park jogger — or Central Park 5, as the defendants were soon called — symbolized a time when conflicted narratives dominated racial discussions in every corner of America. Certainly, in the New York region, the years before and after the Central Park jogger rape were filled with racial firestorms, ranging from the Tawana Brawley hoax, the killings of black men by whites in Queens and Brooklyn — and even the fatal shooting of Phillip Pannell by a white police officer in Teaneck. To name just a few of the incidents.

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When They See Us is a 2019 American drama web television miniseries created, co-written, and directed by Ava DuVernay for Netflix, that premiered in four parts on May 31, 2019.

Said Salaam, "He saw Korey and was like, 'He's still here? I gotta tell the truth.'" Reyes confessed that he alone had committed the rape, offering details With the release of " When They See Us ," the men who were the Central Park Five embrace the attention and dialogue they hope their case will bring

The Central Park Jogger case, however, took on an even greater significance.

The debut of 'alternative facts'

'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters© Frank Franklin II, AP Raymond Santana, right, Kevin Richardson, and Yusef Salaam, left, react to supporters Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, in New York. The three men who were exonerated in the 1989 Central Park Jogger case, were in court for a hearing in a $250 million federal lawsuit they filed against the city after their sentences were vacated. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Rudolph Giuliani, then a highly-respected federal prosecutor, used the case as a springboard for his successful campaign as New York City's mayor and a promise to crack down on crime and improve the quality of life in the city. For Donald Trump, the case was a doorway into one of his first public forays into politics. Shortly after the jogger's rape, Trump bought a series of full-page newspaper advertisements calling for a return of the death penalty.

For many, however, the case embodied confusion over where the nation's race relations were heading.

“This was our first encounter with alternative sets of facts,” said Jim Sleeper, a former New York Daily News columnist and author of several books about racial discord, including “Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York.”

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“Different sides had different facts,” said Sleeper, "and they were not going to budge.”

Sometimes in controversial crime stories, the passage of time softens people’s feelings. That did not happen with the Central Park 5 case. Indeed, what is striking now is how the mere release of a film could tap into such unresolved and widespread anger —and, indeed, latent and exceedingly deep anguish.

Amid mounting criticism in just the last few days for her role supervising the investigation of the Central Park case, Linda Fairstein, the acclaimed former New York City sex crimes prosecutor, resigned from honorary positions on the boards of directors of several non-profit groups as well as a trustee’s post at Vassar College, her alma mater.

But Fairstsein, now 72, who left the New York County’s District Attorney’s office in 2002 after a 30-year career to become a best-selling crime novelist, did not back down from her claim that five teenagers — the Central Park 5 — were somehow linked to the brutal rape of a white, female jogger even though another man came forward in 2002 and insisted that he acted alone.

In resigning from the board of Safe Horizon, a victims rights group, Fairstein wrote that DuVernay’s film “depicts me, in a fictionalized version of events, in a grossly and malicious inaccurate manner.”

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DuVernay, in several interviews, said she stands by her interpretation of Fairstein — played in the film by actress Felicity Huffman — as an aggressive prosecutor who overlooked signs that the five teenagers were not linked to the rape. Several scenes depict Fairstein as pushing police to force the boys to confess.

But this is not the first time Fairstein has faced criticism for her role in the Central Park case. Nor is it likely to be the last.

In 2018, the Mystery Writers of America rescinded its offer to honor Fairstein with a lifetime achievement award for her crime novels. And in just the last few days, petition drives have been launched to encourage Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book distributors to stop selling Fairstein's books.

What really happened on April 19, 1989?

'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters© Mario Suriani, AP In this April 21, 1989 file photo, a jogger passes a New York City police vehicle parked near the area where a woman, who came to be known as the Central Park jogger, was raped, beaten and left for dead two nights earlier.

Amid the whirling — and perhaps worsening — national conversation on race  that has flared up with the release of DuVernay's film, we still have to ask: What really happened in Central Park late in the evening of April 19, 1989?

The basic facts are startling — and, yet, they are also the seeds of mystery.

Around 9 p.m., a group of more than two dozen teenagers — all of them black or Latino and from Harlem — entered the northern portion of the park.

Depending on which version of events you believe, most of the boys were either engaging in playful teenage fun — "messing" with people, as DuVernay noted in an interview with The New Yorker — or had embarked on a vigilante-like crime spree.

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Police later reported that a male jogger was slammed in the head with a pipe, that several bicyclists were attacked and that rocks were thrown at a taxi cab. Police even coined a name for the group’s activities in the park that night.

They called it “wilding.”

But police were unable to answer a basic question: Were all of the more than two dozen boys involved in these attacks? Or was the violence the work of just a few hard-core criminals?

Hours later, that question quickly took on a newfound significance.

Around 1:30 a.m., police were summoned to a ravine just off a road that crossed the park near the North Woods. There, they found the naked body of a woman in a pool of blood.

This was Trisha Ellen Meili, born in Paramus and raised in an affluent suburb of Pittsburgh, with degrees from Wellesley and Yale and a rising star with an investment bank.

Meili had been bashed in the head from behind as she jogged along the cross road around 9 p.m., then dragged across a meadow and raped and beaten again with a rock. When police found her, she was unconscious and barely alive. Her face was so badly smashed that friends had difficulty identifying her when she was hospitalized.

Meili remained in a coma for 12 days. It took years before she could talk and walk normally again. Until 2003, when Meili wrote a memoir about her experiences and a year after the five boys were exonerated, her name was kept secret by most mainstream media, public officials and police.She was known only as the "Central Park jogger."

But she came to symbolize the worst of urban crime.

Police began rounding up the black and Latino boys in the park that night. But they quickly focused on just five teenagers, some of whom were only 14. After lengthy questioning — without adequate food, water or legal advice — the boys confessed to attacking Meili and participating in her rape.

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Within two years, the boys had all been convicted and dispatched to prison — and largely forgotten.

Released and exonerated

'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters© Donald Traill, Donald Traill/Invision/AP FILE- In this May 20, 2019 file photo, Director Ava DuVernay, center, with the Central Park 5: Raymond Santana, from left, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Anthony McCray and Yuesf Salaam, attend the world premiere of "When They See Us," at the Apollo Theater in New York. A former prosecutor in the Central Park Five case has resigned from at least two nonprofit boards as backlash intensified following the release of the Netflix series "When They See Us," a miniseries that dramatizes the events surrounding the trial. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP)

A decade later, however, the boys were released — and exonerated — after Matias Reyes, a serial rapist already serving a life sentence, confessed that he attacked and raped Meili.

Reyes’ DNA matched samples found at the rape scene. Plus, Reyes knew details of the rape that had never been publicly discussed.

Police and prosecutors quickly reshuffled their version of events. The five boys who were originally convicted were exonerated.

But some law enforcement officials — detectives linked to the case and Fairstein —– continued to insist the boys were involved somehow in Meili’s assault. But how?  That question has never been answered by Fairstein or others in law enforcement.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the boys were pressured into these confessions," said Steve Rogers, a former Nutley police officer.

Rogers, who emerged in the early 1990s as an outspoken defender of police on radio and TV and is now an adviser to President Trump's reelection campaign, insists that the Central Park case was a "miscarriage of justice."

"It became political," Rogers said. "The police jumped to conclusions because they became emotional. And emotion drives inaccurate narratives."

In 2014 New York City paid $41 million to the five boys — now with families and lives of their own — to settle lawsuits they had filed. Trisha Meili is now an motivational speaker who also works at Mount Sinai Medical Center with victims of brain injuries.

The case was supposedly closed, consigned to an embarrassing period of history. But then came DuVernay’s miniseries — and the reopening of decades-old wounds.

Whether the renewed interest  in the case will help bring about healing is still a mystery.

“These young men paid dearly,” said Walter Fields. “This is a crime that should never be forgotten. If we don’t examine this in intimate detail, we’re bound to repeat it again.”

Email: kellym@northjersey.com

This article originally appeared on North Jersey Record: 'When They See Us,' shows the Central Park 5 case still matters

Read More

'We're fine, we're off the mountain': Stranded Mount Rainier climber recounts harrowing struggle.
As the snow piled around his group, covering their tent, Yev Krasnitskiy told himself, "It's miserable, but we're alive and it's going to end at some point." The experienced mountain climber from Portland, Oregon told this to himself and his three companions as he reflected about how many people were out there, wondering what was going on with the stranded group of climbers on the side of Mount Rainier. Krasnitskiy recounted his story to media from Harborview Medical Center where the climbers arrived Thursday. The climb had been planned for months, since December 2018, Krasnitskiy said in an interview with KOMO News.

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