The story of the ‘Central Park Five’ — a group of black and brown teenagers wrongly convicted for the brutal rape a white woman — will be told in the Netflix mini-series, ‘When They See Us.’ Before it airs, here’s what you need to know.
Thirty years ago, a city of millions turned its hate on five teenage boys. The Central Park Five — Korey Wise, 46, Kevin Richardson, 44, Raymond Santana, 44, Antron McCray, 45, and Yusef Salaam, 45, — were accused of gang-raping a white jogger. They were vilified in the press, Donald Trump called for their execution, and they were convicted of a range of crimes in two separate trials. Yet — they didn’t do it. More than a decade after they were found guilty, the Central Park Five were exonerated of the crime.
Their story has become an example of injustices black and brown people experience in the legal system – four of the “Central Park Five” are African-American, while one is Latino — and it is the basis of When They See Us, the new Netflix mini-series by Ava DuVernay. Ahead of the show’s debut on May 31, here’s what you need to know about the case:
1. The Central Park Five were accused of assaulting and raping a white female jogger in 1989. On the night of April 19, 1989, Trisha Meili went for a jog in Central Park. Several hours later, the then-28-year-old investment banker was found in a ravine, according to AM New York. She been raped and brutally beaten, suffering a fractured skull among other life-threatening injuries. The attack was one of several that took place during Central Park that night, and a roaming group of 30 youths, aged 13-17, were suspected of committing this atrocious crime. After the police conducted their investigation, they charged seven teens in connection with the crimes, five of which would go on to be called the “Central Park Five.”
The attack had left Trisa in a coma for 12 days. After she recovered and regained the ability to speak, she said she had no memory of the incident and was unable to identify who had attacked and raped her.
2. They were found guilty… While the Central Park Five initially confessed to participating in the Central Park Attacks, the teens and their lawyers insisted they were coerced into giving false statements during their interrogations that last hours.