The title of this Netflix 4-part miniseries When They See Us by Ava DuVernay based on the true-life 1989 Central Park Jogger case has so much relevance to today’s criminal justice system that is haunting. Racial profiling has always existed in one way or another. This story isn’t an isolated situation. There are many horrific cases like this that have span throughout time. Someone commits a crime and instead of justice prevailing, innocent people are chosen to be the sacrificed based on the color of their skin in order to help someone else’s career.
These five young men of color were Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise. The fact that these boys were picked up for allegedly fitting the description.; yet there was no real description. The rape victim didn’t get any of the assailant and there were no witnesses. The pressure was on the prosecutors office to find someone to convict which is understandable; however, the manner in which Linda Fairstein decided to make them fit the narrative is morally incomprehensible. Personally I believe all of her cases should be reopened because she seems to have a prejudice against not only black and brown men but against justice. Understand that she was a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office from 1976 to 2002. I also believe her books should be pulled from shelves.
This documentary was hard to watch at times; however, I watched it twice. Why? I felt it was important to watch the first time because I had heard of the story in the news. The second time I watched it I had had such a heavy heart the first time and wanted a better understanding of how these boys were failed so many times. They were failed by their friends who were with them in the park who didn’t come forward and say what they were doing at the time of the rape. Their failure seems to have come from fear of being arrested as well. They were failed by the officers who arrested them who just literally picked them out of the crowd because they were “thugs from the projects” as they were labeled by the news reporters. They were failed by a system who did not care about them at all and to this day still don’t care.
Not-My-President Donald Trump is even mentioned for his $85,000 ad of “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE”. How ironic is it 20 years later he is in office with such high rates of police brutality and killings of black and brown men.
In 2002, DNA evidence linked serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes to Trisha Meili. In 2014 the Central Park Five were awarded a $41 Million Dollar settlement in a civil case.
Have you watched When They See Us yet? I encourage you to watch it with your sons, nephews, daughters.. all the people you love. I cannot imagine the psychological effects all of this had on these men and their families. We live in a society that reminds us that as much as things are evolving they are remaining the same.