Ken Burn’s new documentary Central Park Five premieres tonight on PBS.
The film recounts the story of five young black and Hispanic men accused and wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York’s Central Park. Their confessions were coerced by law enforcement and there was no DNA evidence connecting them to the crime.
It would be years before their names were cleared.
Dubbed the “Central Park Jogger” case, the fiasco is notorious for the insane media frenzy surrounding it.
The film documents how this came to pass. With interviews from the five men, footage and newspaper clippings from that time and no narration (only carefully worded facts filling up the screen intermittently), the documentary does an admirable job at being objective. The City of New York refused to give interviews for the film, so the “voice” of the city comes in the form of official statements and news footage from the time period.
How did five boys accused of a horrific crime they did not commit end up confessing to said crime? The film answers that by delving into the tactics used to garner the confessions. These teenage boys were interrogated for hours on end with no sleep, no food, no attorneys and often times with no parents present. It is heartbreaking to watch the events unfold and to watch these now grown men tear up at how they were treated and the years they lost to the prison system.
Thoughts on this infamous case?
Will you watch Central Park Five?
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