The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Movie Review:
The Central Park Five

Jan 7, 2013

The documentary “The Central Park Five” shows why and how one Latino and four Black teenagers were maliciously and falsely prosecuted in the 1989 case of the beating and raping of a white woman in New York’s Central Park.

After the five teenagers spent years of their early lives in prison, another guy, Matias Reyes, who was serving a life sentence for rape and murder, confessed to the crime in 2002. His DNA matched the evidence, confirming that he was the real rapist.

The falsely accused, falsely convicted teenagers were finally exonerated and released from prison.

From the beginning it was obvious they had been railroaded.

After the rape was reported, the five teenagers, who had been clear on the other side of the park that night, were picked up and railroaded for the crime.

Detectives held the five of them overnight, in isolation from one another, and interrogated them without food or sleep and with shouts to their faces. After they were bullied for more than a day, the terrified teenagers “confessed” to the crime, falsely implicating each other, in order to go back to their homes.

The teenagers were from working class families living in Harlem. Their parents could not be present at the interrogations during the day, because they were at work. They could not get competent legal help to intervene with the interrogations, because they could not afford it.

The teenagers, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Kharey Wise, Yusef Salaam, and Raymond Santana, all between14 and 16 years old, were convicted based on their supposed “confessions.” The so-called “confessions” in fact confused actual details and events leading up to the rape.

There was no physical evidence to connect any of the teenagers to the crime. DNA found on the victim’s body did not match any of them. No traces of the victim’s blood, hair or skin could be found on any of the teenagers. In fact, all the DNA evidence found on the victim’s body came from a single unknown person.

But this did not matter. A white female investment banker from New York’s Upper East Side had been raped. Someone had to pay. The city, including its mayor, the prosecutors, the detectives and the cops, the media and the super rich, acting like a pack of wolves, descended on the teenagers. These powerful people only wanted a conviction—it mattered not whether the five had committed the crimes.

This was not a trial, but an attack with racial hatred on working class people, a lynching in the most basic sense of the term.

This remarkable documentary is showing only in a few theaters. If it shows near you, try to see it.