The story of blacks in Americans being tortured, subjected to ill-treatment and facing injustice is endless and has come to symbolize the racial tensions that defined much of the 20th-century race relations in the United States. The Central Park Five trial reads just another injustice witness by the Blacks in America.
In April 19, 1989, five people comprising four African Americans: Yusef Salaam, 16; Anthony McCray, 16; Kharey Wise, 18; Kevin Richardson, 16; and Raymond Santana (a Hispanic who all were residents of New York) were variously tried and convicted of attempted murder, rape, sodomy, and the assault of a white lady, Trisha Meili, 28, in New York City’s Central Park.
This trial was tagged as the ‘Central Park Jogger Trial’ which popular press like the New York Times made the most publicized crime at that moment. A report of about 30 youths assaulting and robbing people in the northernmost section of Central Park was filled to the police on April 19, 1989. The report had it that several people were attacked and robbed by this group of five New York residents as they moved south through the park.
Police were deployed by 9:30 p.m. and one of the victims told police that he was attacked by a group of four to five black youths close to the northernmost section of Central Park. Though Police were in the guard, Meili, who was on her nightly jog in the northern section of Central Park, was attacked, beaten, raped and left for dead 9:00 p.m. She was no way to be found until about 1:30 a.m. She recovered after 12 days in a coma, even when the doctors had predicted she would die given she was beaten so badly.
Police identified and arrested several suspects, including Santana and Richardson at about 10:15 p.m. Wise, McCray, and Salaam was equally identified as others participating in the attack. The youths got interviewed for a couple of hours by the police and each confessed to participating in the rape and assaulting people in Central Park that night with parent or guardian present.
However, after several weeks of their arrest, all the arrested suspect withdrew their statements claiming they did so under duress. They further said they were lied to and forced into making false statements by the police. There was an inflamed public sentiment on a full-page newspaper demanding the death penalty by now US President, Donald Trump.
He stated, the suspect deserves to suffer and should be prosecuted. Ed Koch, New York City Mayor also assumed the suspect of ‘The Central Park Five’ and required fairness. Jail sentenced between 5 and 15 years was read to all five members of The Central Park Five as they were found guilty.
In 2002, New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau asked The Central Park Five’s convictions related rape of Meili and the other convictions related to other attacks on April 19, 1989, be removed by the court and ‘The Central Park Five’ released with immediate effect.
This came on the back of a confession made by a serial rapist Matias Reyes. He confessed to had rapped and assaulted Meili. This came with DNA evidence along with specific details of the assault to support his confession.
The Central Park Five got released. They sued the City of New York for malicious prosecution and received $41 million worth of settlement in 2004. However, a lawsuit against the State of New York as of 2014 was still pending in court.
Source: Black Past
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