It took 25 years for justice to come, as five young men paid the price, with convictions, lengthy jail stays, and a highly publicized court case, for a crime they did not commit.
Late Thursday evening the City of New York, and the five men reached a $40 million dollar settlement that officially closes a sad chapter in race relations in America’s largest metropolis.
The case of the Central Park Jogger involved a Wall Street analyst, Trisha Meili, a 28-year-old white female, who was brutally attacked, beaten, raped, and left for dead in the summer of 1989. The highly publicized case gripped New York City into a racial frenzy. The five Black and Latino men, Anton McCray, Raymond Santana, Kharey Wise, Kevin Richardson, and Yusef Salaam, all teenagers at the time, were from the Harlem community, and were convicted on circumstantial evidence.
Now approaching middle age, the five had been locked in a bitter battle with city officials since filing civil rights lawsuits that followed their exoneration in 2002. Their convictions were vacated when Matias Reyes, a career criminal, confessed to the crime that experts called nasty and brutal. DNA evidence not used during the highly publicized 1990 criminal trial of the five, later surfaced, and backed-up Reyes’ claim as the lone perpetrator.
Bill de Blasio, now New York’s Mayor, had made a campaign promise in 2013 that if elected he would put the controversial issue of the five men to rest. New York’s previous mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, had fought to have the civil rights case the five had filed dismissed.
For more than 24 years the five men said that they did not attack, nor rape, Trisha Meili. They and their lawyers maintained that the police, and much of the New York press had ‘railroaded them’ in the racially charged case.
Such public figures as Donald Trump, the real-estate mogul, had taken out full-page advertisements in all of the city’s newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty.
This story, as reported on Sahara TV in early February of this year, has come to a close. Many historians will consider it similar in many ways to the case of the ‘Scottsboro Boys.’ That is a case where nine young Black men in Alabama were tried, and convicted, of raping a white female in the 1930’s.
Like the Scottsboro Boys of decades past, the Central Park Five were later found innocent of the charges leveled against them. It is now a matter of piecing together lives mostly lost over a quarter of a century in case of injustice.[Sahara Reporters]