Let’s do food for thought from “When They See Us.” How does it feel when you are accused wrongly? Probably at work or at home.
You know when someone acts as a prosecutor and a judge over your case and kind of banishes you to a conviction in his mind.
Sometimes the damage has already been done by the time the truth becomes known, and you’re left with a bunch of really useless apologies.
That and a lot more was probably how the Central Park Five boys felt from “When They See Us.”
When They See Us Plot
Now, this is the story of five African American and Hispanic boys from Harlem.
They were wrongfully accused, prosecuted and subsequently convicted of assault, rape and attempted murder among other things of a white female jogger in 1990.
This obviously dates way back because the violation is alleged to have taken place in 1989 on a night that the boys in the company of others were known to have been “wilding in the park.”
The story from “When They See Us” is a very emotional one, especially for people of color because this was clearly racial prejudice at work.
The boys Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam all underage, about 14 to 15 years and Korey Wise who just turned 16 were amidst no substantial evidence convicted of crimes they knew nothing about.
The evidence amassed pointed to the presence of a single assailant.
But the DA of the sex crimes unit, Linda Fairstein insisted the children were suspects when she heard they had been in the same park that night.
The five in “When They See Us” were cruelly questioned for hours, threatened and coerced into giving statements and implicating each other just “so they could go home.”
A character of importance is Korey Wise who only went to support his friend Yusef Salaam and was dragged into the midst of it when they clearly had no other way to tie the crime to the boys.
He was sent to a regular prison for adults as a registered sex offender.
When They See Us Review
Let’s start with racial prejudice in “When They See Us.”
The DA of the sex crimes unit with her team, which was predominantly white, and the judge the case was assigned to depicted a criminal justice system which was failing due to bias and racial prejudice.
The notion that only persons of a tribe or race were susceptible and more likely to commit crimes had eaten deep into the system so much that five boys had to lose 12 years of their life, their childhood and adolescence to the cultural division.
They literally went in as children and were brought out as men who had no idea of what had been done to them.
These males in ‘When They See Us” were utterly stripped and banished to a life of no importance after their release.
It indeed became one of the most popular wrongful conviction cases New York City had experienced over the years.
“When They See Us” was indeed a masterpiece because the world has grown to see a time when both white and children of color are given the same privileges, or so it seems.
The eventual confession by Matias Reyes in 2002, which was backed by evidence exposed their ills and weaknesses and the dangers in ethnic stereotyping.
This series literally tells this story all too well and depicts the emotions and intensity of the wrong that had been done to those boys.
“When They See Us” is a series to watch, and the director Ava Duvernay deserves all the accolades.
I write more in-depth about social and race issues in my Amazon Best Seller book, “Justice On The Jersey Shore: How Ermon K. Jones Ignited Change And Won.” Purchase now here.
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