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Alidar Jarok April 11 2013 04:47 AM

The Central Park Five
My school had a screening of Ken Burn's documentary on the Central Park Five. Basically, these were teenagers who were picked up and interrogated for hours and asked to accuse each other of raping and brutally beating her. These confessions were not consistent with each other or entirely consistent with the facts. Furthermore, the only DNA evidence matched none of them (DNA was still relatively new, but the New York DA regularly relied on it). Based entirely on these confessions all five were convicted.

The documentary does a good job of telling their stories. It does a good job documenting the hysteria that existed at the time. It explores the racial aspects (there was another woman raped at the time who was thrown off a roof and no one noticed the story because it was not a cross-racial rape). But it was clear that it wasn't entirely about race, but really about a blinding resolve to solve a case due to the surrounding tension that existed at the time in New York City. I also appreciated that they did not forget the victim in this case and made sure not to demonize her.

Overall, I found it a very good coverage of the criminal justice system gone bad. At the time, Mayor Koch said that this case would be a test of the system. Unfortunately, it was and we failed.


IndyJones April 11 2013 06:51 AM

Re: The Central Park Five
Saw Ken Burns on The Daily Show tonight and resolved to watch it this weekend. Amazon has it on Instant View for about $4.

I was too young to know of the incident when it happened, so I can't really comment on it yet, but I'm really disappointed in NYC's unwillingness to provide any restitution to these men who wrongly lost so much of their lives.

Alidar Jarok April 11 2013 01:36 PM

Re: The Central Park Five
Yeah. The documentary itself doesn't focus as much on the lawsuit (although it does make a compelling case that they deserve compensation), but unwillingness to admit they were wrong is, unfortunately, not terribly surprising. Although the District Attorney has changed his mind, the Assistant District Attorney who handled the case remains convinced of guilt.

Definitely watch it when you get the chance.

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