Friday, June 20, 2014

Breaking News: The Central Park 5 to Settle with New York City for $40M

Central Park 5 to Settle for $40M

Back in 1989 the City of New York committed a gross act of injustice, when they arrested the five teens above, coerced false confessions from them, tried them on false evidence, and later convicted them for a crime that they NEVER committed.

After 25-years it appears that these men are finally getting the restitution that they rightfully deserve. 

The agreement, reached between the city’s Law Department and the five plaintiffs, would bring to an end an extraordinary legal battle over a crime that came to symbolize a sense of lawlessness in New York, amid reports of “wilding” youths and a marauding “wolf pack” that set its sights on a 28-year-old investment banker who ran in the park many evenings after work.

The confidential deal, disclosed by a person who is not a party in the lawsuit but was told about the proposed settlement, must still be approved by the city comptroller and then by a federal judge.

The initial story of the crime, as told by the police and prosecutors, was that a band of young people, part of a larger gang that rampaged through Central Park, had mercilessly beaten and sexually assaulted the jogger. The story quickly exploded into the public psyche, fanned by politicians and sensational news reports that served to inflame racial tensions.

In 1989 New York City was as tale of the ultra rich and very poor, especially in Manhattan. Crime was extremely high. There was a serious crack epidemic forced upon communities of color, unemployment was high and the city was in financial turmoil. Times Square was not the glitzy tourist hot spot it is today. There was graffiti everywhere and riding the subways could often seem like a game of "Russian Roulette." Five-years earlier Bernhard Goetz shot four black men on a train, because they "tried to rob him." So there was already precedence regarding 'fear of black men" in this city.

In April 1989 a 28-year old investment banker (who remained unidentified until 2003) who was jogging in central park late one evening, was brutally raped and beaten, and left for dead. This heinous crime left the city feeling desperate for answers and hungry to find the perpetrator(s). There was an intense amount of pressure placed on the NYPD to make an arrest and quickly. I likened the haste and emotion to the recent murders of the young couple in New Jersey who were carjacked and murdered after holiday shopping at Short Hills Mall. I know personally I was angry and wanted to see justice brought immediately, so I completely understand what the sentiments must have been like after this rape was reported in 1989.

The NYPD decided to focus on the five teens who became known as the Central Park 5. They aged 14-16 years old. One of the young men was 18 years-old and tried as an adult. The police (even enlisting the help of the parents of a few of the teens to help persuade them) coerced the teens into confessing to the crime and promptly announced the arrests. Despite being under aged their names and photos were plastered all over the media. The police botched this case so badly, that the real perpetrator Matias Reyes was out free and went on to rape and murder another victim.

This entire story is chronicled in a documentary titled "The Central Park Five." I highly encourage you all the see this film, if you haven't already. The original video confessions are seen in the film and will blow your mind.

These young men had their entire lives taken away from them for a crime that they didn't commit. No amount of money will give them back their innocence or the opportunities that may have come their way, had they'd not been convicted. However, it's good to finally see the City of New York step up to the plate and accept some responsibility for this terrible incident.

Sound off....

Do you remember this case and New York City as it existed in 1989?
Have you seen the film "The Central Park Five?"
Should New York City pay restitution to these men?

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