Who were the Central Park Five of ‘they see us’

they see us
they see us

The Netflix miniseries tells the story of several teenagers accused in 1989 of a crime they did not commit

Trisha Meili, an employee of a 28-year-old white Wall Street investment fund, was brutally attacked and raped on the night of April 19, 1989 in the northern area of Central Park, New York. At the same time, a large group of African-American and Hispanic teenagers from Harlem committed petty robberies and assaults also in the north of the park. they see us.

  The police detained them to interrogate them for both incidents and the rape of Meili and, pressed to find the culprit quickly, ended up accusing five young people, under 16 years of age, who were found guilty and sent to prison.

These guys started to be known as the Five of Central Park because they had been accused and condemned without sufficient evidence, and in the midst of a very rarefied racial climate, and are the protagonists of Así se ven, the miniseries that Ava DuVernay has created for Netflix on the case, and that opens tomorrow, Friday May 31. they see us.

they see us

The first criticisms that come from the United States define it as fundamental and much more than a true crime story, or the portrait of an injustice. Nor is it the first time that this story is told on television; Ken Burn supervised, in 2012, a documentary for PBS on the case. Before it opens So they see us, let’s see who these five teenagers were and the circumstances that led them to spend between six and thirteen years in prison.

The case of the Central Park broker
On the night of April 19, 1989, several criminal acts committed in the northern part of Central Park were reported. Several Harlem teenagers engaged in assaulting runners who moved through the area, attacking them with stones and other blunt objects. Around 9:30 p.m., several police officers went to that part of the park and arrested about thirty young people, including Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson.

At 1:30 in the morning the body of Trisha Meili was discovered. She had run at about 21 and had been raped and beaten wildly, until she was dying.


The police questioned the teenagers she had arrested at the beginning of the night until she got those five boys confessed to having participated in the crime, although none claimed to have raped her. Meili could not offer testimony of what happened because she had gone into a coma.

The accusations against the five young people (four African-Americans and one Hispanic) were based almost exclusively on what they had declared to the police, since their DNA did not match the one found either in the victim or in the scene of the crime. This had been committed, in addition, at a time when racial tensions were on the surface in New York and crime was very high.

On the same night as the attack on Meili, a 38-year-old black woman had also been raped by two men on a rooftop and then thrown into the void. they see us.

He survived the fall, but his case was confined to the Local section of the newspapers, while that of Meili acquired national relevance and Ed Koch, mayor of the city, claimed that it was “the crime of the century”. Donald Trump even paid for ads in major New York newspapers asking that they be sentenced to death.

In such a climate, the five defendants had little chance of getting out of jail. The victim did not remember anything of what had happened that night, so their confessions finally led them to be imprisoned by the maximum for their age, between five and ten years.

His sentences were not revoked until 2001, when a serial rapist named Matías Reyes, in prison for other crimes, confessed to having been the sole author of the crime.

Those responsible for the series
Korey Wise, one of the Central Park Five, contacted Ava DuVernay on Twitter to tell him how much his film Selma had impacted him, and to suggest that there might be enough subject matter in his story for another film. Or, in this case, a miniseries of four chapters.

DuVernay has counted on the advice of convicts and their families and tells the whole story from their point of view. Their interpreters are all unknown actors and, in some cases, even debutants, with the exception of Jharrell Jerome, who caught the attention of Hollywood for his participation in Moonlight. they see us.

Among the adult characters there are much more familiar faces for fans of the series, from Vera Farmiga to Michael K. Williams or Niecy Nash.

The director has already touched on the institutionalized racism in her documentary on mass incarceration, Amendment XIII, also for Netflix, and has assured in several interviews that what she intends with So they see us is to show how the rarefied climate of that time has not dissipated in the Today: “the case was built on emotions that were completely manufactured by aggressive lemgueja and a partial presentation of the facts.

We are like this again. People call me a conspirator, because I am always considering the opposite opinion, but in reality it comes from I do not know for sure what this is. I’m going to ask and ask myself. I ask people to do that.

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