The Central Park Five Tells The Story Of One Of NYC's Most Horrid Injustices

Categories: Film

In 1989, our racially divided city was in an uproar over what happened to the Central Park jogger, a woman who was raped and beaten while running in the park one evening.

Five Harlem teens were convicted after much coercing, manipulating, threatening, and lying on the part of homicide detectives.

In 2002, they were finally exonerated and set free.

And now there's a movie to look back at the horror.

The Central Park Five--by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon--looks at the warped ethics, racism, and lust for resolution that led to this miscarriage of justice, which was sort of a modern-day Scottsboro Boys.

There was a VIP screening of the film last night and then a dinner at Circo, where Ken Burns told me the five guys were easy targets because "they had never been in the system. They were the most vulnerable to [the police's] tactics. They wanted to please and they wanted to go home."

And so they started confessing!

Burns said that the ironically named Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor that got the boys convicted, didn't look happy when the conviction came in.

Said he, "She looks like she's been kicked in the stomach."

She got what she wanted--but at what price?

As for the guys, Burns said, "We've all lied and know the extra work it takes to keep up that lie. You can see that work on all their faces!"

The film also shows how Donald Trump was piggishly pushing himself into the p.r. fray even then.

Trump spent a fortune taking out large newspaper ads in which he begged for the death penalty for these kids because of their alleged savage attack.

Classy, huh? Thank god no one listened or five innocent teens would have been exterminated without a second thought.

Lest you think things have changed a lot since then, we currently have that horrid "stop and frisk" system which mainly targets people of color.

And we still have Donald Trump going after one of them too.

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A white woman was raped and beaten and all you gays care about are the black men. I know you gays love big black penis but you could atleast have some compassion for the poor inocent women who are harmed, but gay men secretly hate women and make fun of them all the time


I'd like to know if the Village Voice published the names of the accused alongside other NYC newspapers.  Not a challenge, I'm just curious which papers crossed that line.  Good litmus test for how unique this story was.


Why don't we just put them all in a zoo where they belong. We can put them next to the Puerto Rican cage


@BoyGeorge Super George! Classic Kenny E. x


@BoyGeorge Kenny Everett Super George just been on BBC 4


@BoyGeorge Not much has changed in that way either, sigh. Do I want 2 grow old? It looks pretty grim 4 a coloured gay guy, George.

musto moderator

Just got this:


Dear colleague,

As you may have read in today's New York Times, the City of New York has subpoenaed notes and outtakes from the documentary THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE. In response to the subpoena, filmmakers Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon issued the following statement:

"We have long expected the subpoena. For the last ten years the City has refused to settle the civil rights lawsuit brought by these young men. This strikes us as just another effort to delay and deny closure and justice to these five men, each of whom was cleared of guilt even though they served out their full and unjustified terms.

"As you can imagine, we strongly believe in the media's right to investigate and report on these and other issues and that this process, including the reporting notes and outtakes, come under the New York reporters' shield law. The government has an exacting burden before it can obtain these and other materials."

 "The Central Park Five examines how the legal system's rush to judgment-fueled by a city racially divided and fearful of crime-resulted in false confessions and no reassessment of the charges as conflicting evidence came in.  

"This left a brutal rapist on the streets and robbed five innocent kids of their youth, all of whom served out their full terms. District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, after directing a thorough re-investigation when the actual rapist came forward and confessed, and realizing his office's mistakes, joined with the defense to request that the convictions be vacated, which was instantly granted by Judge Charles Tejada.

 “In a letter to the City's Law Department, John Siegal, the attorney retained by Florentine Films, explained that the subpoena was ’overbroad,’ since it seeks all materials the filmmakers collected in the course of researching, shooting and editing the film.  ‘The subpoena served by your office is neither appropriate nor enforceable under the governing law for subpoenas served on professional journalists exercising their right of independent free speech and comment on a matter of public importance" Mr. Siegal wrote.

 "Florentine Films has carefully considered the subpoena and is sensitive to the important work performed by your office and the issues involved in the case. But, due to a deeply held belief that its future ability to make films about matters of public interest would be compromised by complying with the subpoena, Florentine Films respectfully intends to invoke its constitutional and statutory rights and withhold the unpublished materials sought by your office." 




pin the tail on the perp


These crimes are bad for the image of this city and the park, the prosecutor and the cops were under pressure to find that rapist.



anyone would do, preferably young, black and male.



Fascinating stuff. This brings it all back. If it was a black woman raped in Harlem, the media wouldn't have bated an eye.