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Ava Duvernay Image Credit: EBONY
Ava Duvernay Image Credit: EBONY

Doing Justice To An Unjust Story

Filmmaker Ava Duvernay’s ‘When They See Us’ looks at the real-life young men who were vilified and falsely convicted in the notorious ‘central park five’ case

Miles Marshall Lewis

In 1989, the world knew the story of the central Park jogger, but depending on where the world got its news, most people didn’t know her name. They did, however, know the names of the so-called “Central Park Five.” The media took the names of the teenage boys accused of sexual assault—Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise—and published them across the globe, along with their Harlem addresses.

Press and public opinion vilified the quintet all through their trial and conviction, while Donald Trump ran full-page newspaper ads, reportedly at a cost of $85,000, demanding the death penalty.

Just one thing—THEY DIDN’T DO IT. Pivoting artistically from her last major project, the 2018 Disney fantasy A Wrinkle in Time, director Ava DuVernay returns to her social justice roots with When They See Us, a four-part Netflix miniseries that tells the story of how five Black and Hispanic teens had their youth stolen by a racist justice system. Thirty years later, the five have settled their $250 million civil rights lawsuit against the city of New York for $40 million, and Trump is now president of the United States. The more things change under a White supremacist-influenced system, the more things stay the same.

Despite the eventual admission of guilt by Matias Reyes—the convicted, imprisoned murderer who confessed to raping jogger Trisha Meili in 2002—Trump still deno


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