In 1989 5 Harlem teens were falsely convicted of brutally assaulting and raping a young female jogger in Central Park. Netflix dropped a new mini-series called, "When They See Us" to display the case of the 'Central Park 5' and how broken and devastating our criminal justice system is.
When They See Us | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix www.youtube.com
Investigators were quick to focus on a large group of Black and Hispanic boys that were running in Central Park that night, causing trouble and mayhem. Dubbed as a "Wolf pack" by media, police were going to hound in on those boys, narrowing it down to five and charged them with attempted murder, assault, and rape of Trisha Meili.
Director and creator of the Netflix miniseries described her reasoning behind creating this was to "Humanize boys, and now men, who are widely regarded as criminals, and in doing that, to invite the audience to re-interrogate everyone that they define as a criminal."
The five boys, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise were all convicted, serving thirteen years between all of them, even with a lack of evidence, racial injustice, and corruption, that's still present even in today's criminal justice system.
In 2002, the real perpetrator confessed to the rape of Trisha Meili, and it was at that point that the five boys were exonerated. Korey Wise, although exonerated, spent thirteen years in prison, as he was charged as an adult. It was revealed that DNA testing proved that none of these boys could've committed the rape, that they couldn't have committed this crime, but thanks to our flawed justice system, they were convicted.
Now, if you're someone like me, who believes that our criminal justice system still needs improvement, you were yelling at your computer or wherever you were watching this miniseries. I wasn't alive at the time of this case, nor had I really heard about it prior to this series being released, but, it saddens me that even today, we still have to deal with racial injustice in our justice system. These five boys were forced to say they committed this attack, without lawyers, held for hours by the NYPD, even though they maintained their innocence throughout the entire trial.
I'm hoping that maybe this miniseries will open more eyes, allow people to see that the race issue is still prevalent in our justice system today and there needs to be some improvement in regards to how people of color are treated by those that are higher up with the law. Crazy to me that we seem to be moving backward in a negative direction instead of moving things towards a more positive future. The case of the Central Park 5, like many other cases involving young black men put up against words or statements from white people, displays the true issue of race. This isn't the 1960's, we're supposed to be moving towards equality, not segregation. A black child should not have to fear walking on the sidewalk by themselves wearing a hoodie that a cop will stop them and question what they have in their pockets.
Our criminal justice system needs improvement, drastically, and it needs to start now. Not in 10 years, not twenty years, right now. Period.