The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said ‘Justice delayed is justice denied,’ but for the Central Park Five, justice has come at last.
The New York Times is reporting that the City of New York has agreed to a $40 million settlement in the infamous case. In 1989, five Black and Hispanic teenagers were arrested in Central Park and ultimately convicted of the vicious rape and beating of a jogger, later identified as investment banker Tricia Meili, then 28.
The teens, 14-16 at the time, were convicted due to confessions that they later claimed were coerced by overzealous police detectives. While the teens admitted they were in Central Park near the time of the attack, they denied raping Meili, but the resultant media frenzy around the case led to a witch hunt which presumed the teenagers guilty.
Then accused of “wilding” in the park, the case, in a divided New York City, seemed to confirm the worst fears about young Black and Hispanic men. All five teens were convicted in 1990 and released, four after serving seven years and one after serving 13 years.
In 2002, convicted rapist and murderer Matias Reyes, met one of the Central Park Five while in jail. He confessed to the crime and was a DNA match, which proved he was the lone man who perpetuated the attack on Meili, who had no memory of it.
After their exoneration, Rafael Santana, Yusuf Salaam, Kharey Wise, Antron McCray, and Kevin Richardson pursued a civil rights case against the city, which dragged on for years as the Bloomberg administration fought it, saying they believed that police and prosecutors had “acted in good faith and with cause.”
Mayor Bill DiBlasio, elected last year, said one of his priorities was reaching a settlement in the case. A 2012 documentary, The Central Park Five produced by award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, renewed interest in the case as it was widely believed that although the men had been exonerated, the stigma of the case took its toll on all of them.
Rev. Al Sharpton, who worked with families and supporters to overturn the convictions in the 90’s, says he’s glad that the men have finally been able to enjoy the victory they fought so hard for. “We took a lot of abuse for that, and the toll on these men and their supporters was terrible,” he told the New York Daily News. “I want to know we have things in place so that this doesn’t happen again.”
The proposed settlement equals out to about $1 million for each man for each year they spent in jail, which for Wise would mean that he’ll receive more than any other victorious defendant has in a wrongful conviction case in New York history. According to the Times, settlements of this kind would not usually include any acknowledgement of wrongdoing by the city.
DiBlasio and lawyers for the Central Park Five have yet to comment.
(Photo: YouTube Screenshot from The Central Park Five.)
Like BlackAmericaWeb.com on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
1 of 25
2 of 25
3 of 25
4 of 25
5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
5 of 25
6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
6 of 25
7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
7 of 25
8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
8 of 25
9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
9 of 25
10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
10 of 25
11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
11 of 25
12. Late nights mornings
12 of 25
13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
13 of 25
14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
14 of 25
15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
15 of 25
16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
16 of 25
17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
17 of 25
18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
18 of 25
19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
19 of 25
20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
20 of 25
21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
21 of 25
22. Claudia Jordan: ....
22 of 25
23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
23 of 25
24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
24 of 25
25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
25 of 25