This day in history — April 19, 1989 — “Central Park Five” Arrested for Rape

On April 19, 1989, a woman was brutally raped and beaten in New York City’s Central Park. Police officers soon arrested five young men – four black teenagers and one Latino teen – and subjected them to hours of intense interrogation in order to extract confessions. Each young man later claimed that he had been coerced into making false confessions. Though there was no physical evidence to link them to the crime, they were convicted of attempted murder and rape, and sentenced to 5-13 years in prison.

In 2002, after another man confessed to the rape and DNA evidence confirmed his confession, New York Supreme Court Justice Charles J. Tejada granted the motions of defense attorneys and District Attorney Robert Morgenthau to vacate the convictions of the “Central Park Five” – though detectives continued to maintain that the defendants were accomplices in the assault. All of the young men had completed their prison sentences at the time their convictions were vacated.

Following their exonerations, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana Jr., Kharey Wise, Yusef Salaam, and Antron McCray sued the city for malicious prosecution, racial discrimination, and emotional distress. “You all don’t really understand what we went through,” Richardson said. “People called us animals, a wolf pack…It still hurts me emotionally.” The city refused to settle the suits for over a decade, but in June 2014 agreed to pay the men $40 million in damages.

From the Equal Justice Initiative’s A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.

“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.  America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans.  The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood.  EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.

About ezwaters

Award-winning poet, playwright and writer. Author of three books of poetry, "Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass: Remembrance of Things Past and Present"; "Sometimes Blue Knights Wear Black Hats"; "The Black Feminine Mystique," and a novel, "Streets of Rage." All four books are available on Amazon.com.
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