At the end of his review of Ken and Sarah Burns’ The Central Park Five, New Yorker critic David Denby writes that news of the innocence of the five defendants in the 1989 Central Park rape case “got nowhere near the attention that the professions of their guilt did. Few people seemed to want to know. The five men initiated a civil lawsuit against the city that has dragged on for nearly a decade. This movie should hasten some sort of final reckoning.”
That’s a chickenshit way of putting it. There’s absolutely no logical way to dispute that the defendants, now in their late 30s, are entitled to be compensated for being railroaded into jail and having their youth destroyed by a racist and callous justice system. And yet Denby and his editors decided to beat around the bush with a namby-pamby generality.
Here’s how I put it on 10.30: “New York City needs to do more than simply admit error in case of the wrongly-convicted, wrongly-imprisoned Central Park Five — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Kharey Wise and Yusef Salaam. Nine years ago the five filed a federal lawsuit against the city, seeking $50 million each in damages or $250 million total. If anyone deserves to be financially compensated for a perversion of justice, it’s these guys. Let’s hope that the five full financial compensation.”