I have honestly never heard of and knew about the Central Park Five case until this week. It popped up on my Netflix and it looked interesting and reading the description had me curious. Within minutes I was hooked in and even more curious as the first episode played on. I started Googling and looking up more information regarding the case.
If you lived under a rock like me, When They See Us is a 4 episode Netflix special telling of the true story of 5 boys who were unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the night of April 19, 1989, a big group of teenagers attacked, assaulted and robbed several people in Central Park. The police were called to come in and take care of the situation. As police apprehended whoever they could find, a woman was found beaten, raped and left for dead in the park. Desperate to solve this brutal crime, they fabricated and fed this story to the 5 boys they had in their custody and coerced them into confessing something they didn’t do. This case is known as the Central Park Five. One boy was dragged into it simply because he wanted to support his friend who was being brought in for questioning. He ended up paying for it the most. Years later, the real perpetrator confessed to the crime but it was too late. The boys had already been convicted and served their time and the real rapist was never tried and prosecuted for this crime in which 5 innocent boys had paid the price for, because the statute of limitations had passed.
As they unfolded the tragic fate of each boy as they paid for a crime they didn’t commit, each performance was outstanding in showing the struggle and hardships they went through as they were incarcerated and lost years of their lives away and then slowly tried to transition back into society with so much notoriety and negativity as wrongfully convicted felons. The actor who portrayed Korey Wise’s story did a phenomenal job as episode 4 was emotionally hard to watch and truly eye-opening through all the themes it explored. I loved that they even touched upon the relationship between him and his transgender sister, played by Isis King, one of my favorite contestants from America’s Next Top Model, back in the day when I used to watch religiously.
I asked coworkers about it who lived through it since 1989 was infant years for me. It’s really unfortunate how the media made it out to be for these boys who eventually were exonerated many, many years later. They were BABIES when this happened to them. And were incarcerated till they were full grown men. Nothing can and will ever give them the time they lost back. It’s so sad. $41 million in my opinion is definitely not enough for what happened to them. The damage to their lives, families, reputation, everything. Watching this special made me so sad and so mad at the same time to see that this injustice is still existing and happening in the world today.
To drive the knife further in, they aired a clip of what Trump said during this time and it’s even more maddening. I looked up his involvement in the Central Park Five case and it’s really hypocritical and more frustrating to see the double standard in which this orange Mussolini voiced his opinion about how they deserved the death penalty and yet is the same jamoke who elected a rapist to the Supreme Court. As well as referred to violent white supremacists as “very fine people.” And then to this day, after the 5 were exonerated and the real rapist confessed and was proven through DNA evidence, he is still in denial of the 5’s innocence. He has refused to admit that he was wrong and continues to peddle yet another racist lie. It’s amazing to me how people still support this idiot.
This piece spoke to me because it was so beautifully put together and well executed to tell the story of these 5 boys. The casting was perfect and the performances were powerful. There is much to take away from this and will leave you scouring the internet to learn more. It will make you angry. It will make you sad. It will move you. It’s only 4 episodes long but you’ll find yourself both wanting to finish it but needing to take a break in between each because it’s so hard to watch because of how heart wrenching it is. I usually don’t like recommend the shows I watch because I do watch a lot of garbage and I watch some weird shit sometimes that isn’t for everyone, but this series I highly recommend no matter what audience you’re part of. It’s worth the time to watch and educate yourself about the injustices that happened and is still happening around the country today.
If you watched it, sound off below! I’d love to read your thoughts and discuss further.