On May 31, 2019, Netflix premiered When They See Us and many of us were not ready for the emotional journey we would experience during this miniseries. Inspired by the Central Park jogger case Ava DuVernay brilliantly and thoughtfully takes us back 30 years to a time in our society, before social media where racism and the criminal justice system headlined every major news outlet in the country. I recall salacious headlines such as Central Park Horror, Wolf Pack’s Prey and the infamous $85,000 full-page ad in the Daily News titled, Bring Back The Death Penalty, Bring Back Our Police compliments of Donald J. Trump.
On April 19, 1989, a female jogger was brutally beaten, raped, and left for dead in Central Park. Five black and brown teen boys, ages 14 to 16 were arrested by New York police and convicted of the crime serving six to 13 years in prison.
When They See Us highlights the lives and the journey of the five boys over the course of 25 years. Ultimately the convictions for Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, and Kevin Richardson were vacated in 2002 and their records were wiped clean after another prison inmate confessed to the attack.
When They See Us reminds us before Sandra Bland (2015), Eric Garner (2014), and Trayvon Martin (2012), there was the Central Park Five (1989).