Monday, December 17, 2012

Sheep in Wolf's Clothing



Spent a rainy Sunday afternoon with Michael at IFC catching a matinee of "The Central Park Five," the documentary about the horrifying Central Park Jogger case, directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon. Crime junkies and normal people alike have become all too familiar with cases of wrongful convictions. But as with the Connecticut school shootings, there is something particularly horrifying about watching the victimization of children, which is exactly what the Manhattan District Attorney's office did to Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Karey Wise and Yusef Salaam back in 1989, when five boys (of color) were plucked off the street and vilified as the five worst seeds in America. Other than dubiously obtained confessions by four of the boys, there was positively nothing linking any of them to the brutal rape and bludgeoning of a 28-year-old jogger, yet there was plenty of exculpatory evidence. Whether you know the details of the case or not, you know the drill: DNA eventually exonerates people the prosecutors had convinced the world to want dead. (Donald Trump took out full-page ads in every paper urging New Yorkers to petition for reinstatement of the death penalty, on a case against 14-year-olds.) But what makes "The Central Park Five" so riveting is how much time it spends getting to know the wrongly convicted and their families, and not shying away from shining a spotlight on the collateral damage these miscarriages of justice cause. I highly recommend this one, a sure contender for an Academy Award.

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