If you’re intellectually honest, you have to include age & race.
Ava DuVernay even signed on to do the Netflix series because of the race of The Central Park 5. DuVernay could not pass up the race and age narrative opportunities. Al Sharpton, who was often seen during the trials and had a hand in the settlement came for that reason. It’s the reason that Alton Maddox was attached to the case as well as other civil rights folks. NONE of those people would have given a crap if these boys were Asian. This thing wouldn’t even be on our radar if not for the racial aspect. So let us at least be realistic, firstly.
What most folks don’t recognize is that back in 1989, the Central Park 5 outraged blacks and whites alike. Blacks held a candlelight vigil for the victim and spoke out publicly against the boys saying that they should have their nuts cut off as well as other violent things that didn’t exclude death. Americans saw race differently back then, in terms of crime. People weren’t as tribalistic.
There were at least four black jury members during each trial who looked at more than just their confessions. They decided to send the CP5 to prison. Only one white juror thought they might be innocent. ONE. He was the only holdout.
Age ain’t nothing but a number.
Ava DuVernay thought to cast the characters as young and small to give the idea of racism against young black males. Particularly the cast of Kevin Richardson, who was much taller and just larger in general. Ava DuVernay has said that that was on purpose. She was trying to change the way people felt about these guys using the race and age narrative, and it has worked exceptionally well. That’s the psychological powers of media. (See DuVernay admitting that ‘When They See Us’ is “Biased” and “Slanted.”)
By most measures, deviant behavior in males begins around the age of 13. By 15 young men are almost certainly going to be involved in some sort of deviancy. All social science agrees with this.
Moreover, there was so much evidence against these kids besides those confessions. There was mud on their clothes (the attackers left Patricia Meili for dead in a muddy ravine). Police found blood on their clothes (3 of them had blood on them). They found semen on their clothing (3 of them had sperm on their garments and undergarments). Two of them had hairs consistent with the jogger’s hair, which means that the hairs were blonde and very similar. The police found two strands in the boys’ underwear of all places. How did two young black males from Harlem end up with blonde hair, blood, and semen on themselves?
What is the evidence that the police mishandled the case or did anything against the law in the interrogations? What is the evidence of racism against young black males? Name me the smoking gun piece of evidence that proves that happened. All the investigations into this case showed no wrongdoing by the police. Even some of the most reputable organizations, known for finding police corruption in NYC, found nothing in this case. The fact is that the only evidence that the police did anything wrong is from the CP5s mouths. THERE IS ZERO EVIDENCE that police mishandled this case.
The only reason they had their cases vacated (they were not exonerated) is because of ONE single new piece of evidence; Reyes was saying he did it on his own. That is it. Not DNA. They knew the DNA didn’t match back in 1990 and 91 during the trials. Listening to their confessions would explain why they didn’t find any of their DNA. If you know how they searched for DNA and what the CSI capabilities were back in 1989, it makes sense. All of them said they did not penetrate her and only humped her to make it seem as if they were having sex with her so their friends wouldn’t call them punks.
Their ages had nothing to do with the fact that they had done crimes. The CP5 maintained for a long time that they had beat up the six other victims that night. Not until they became media darlings did they begin to change that story. So it’s interesting that they made that change when they did. I guess no one wants to pass up an opportunity to make use of the race and age narrative.