Real Events in History turned into a TV show: The Central Park Five with the show "When They See Us"
Updated: May 13
The new Netflix series, “When They See Us”, is a wonderfully done series based on the horrible story of the Central Park Five. For those who don't know the story of the Central Park Five, five young teenage African American and Latino boys who ranged from ages 14-16 were wrongfully accused for the brutal assault, rape and attempted murder of Trisha Mili, a 28 year old woman who was jogging in Central Park on April 19th, 1989. In Central Park, kids often run with maybe 2-3 of their friends in a huge group of around 30 kids. On the night of April 19th, 1989 a group of African American and Latino boys were in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of these kids were brought into the police station where they were questioned, harassed, and beat up for 42 hours straight without food, water, or sleep.
The law states if you are 15 or younger, you cannot be questioned without a legal guardian present, however the New York City police department took advantage of these kids not knowing their rights and questioned them without their parents. They knew none of these kids committed the crime they were accused of, however, they still manipulated them to confess. They told these kids, “say who did it and you can go home” and it wasn’t as if you were betraying your friends, these were random kids they didn't know. After 42 hours, the police narrowed it down to 5 kids: Kevin Richardson, 14, Raymond Santana, 14, Antron McCray, 15, Yusef Salaam ,15, and Kory Wise, 16. Law Enforcement manipulated these kids saying “tell us what happened and you can go home and this will be all over.” These kids were scared and confessed to something they didn't do because they just wanted to go home.
Soon after, the boys all went to court and their case was all over the news. Donald Trump even took a full page ad out of the New York Times saying “Bring back the Death Penalty” which is unbelievably wrong for MANY reasons, they knew those 5 boys didn't do it and they were minors, ⅘ of them were too young to get the death penalty. When going to court, the police were unbelievably manipulative and played a completely unfair game. When these kids “confessed”, it was all recorded however so was the police manipulating the kids. But when those tapes were brought into court, the police department edited the tapes and had the parts of the manipulating police officers cut out. They ran sexual assault tests, blood tests, etc. The woman who was assaulted was wearing a pure white jacket and after the attack it was completely blood red. Every test they ran came back negative, yet somehow that was not enough evidence for the judge and they all were pronounced guilty.
4 out of the 5 kids got tried as minors and spent from 5-9 years in Juvenile Hall and prison or until they turned 21. However, Kory Wise, the oldest, was tried as an adult and spent 14 years in prison. Kory definitely had it the worst since the first prison he got sent to was Rikers Island where he was beaten and harassed. He almost died a few times until he decided to go into solitary confinement. He kept wanting to transfer and ended up going to 4 different prisons. Once those other 4 boys were out they had to register as sex offenders and it was really difficult for them to get jobs. Raymond Santana even ended up selling illegal drugs to make some extra money but then got caught and was sent back to prison. While Kory was incarcerated, he actually ended up in 2 different prisons with Matias Reyes, the real criminal who assaulted and raped Trisha Mili.
In 2002, Matis Reyes finally confessed because he was already sentenced to life for the rape and assault of another woman. Matis Reyes said he had developed a “connection to God and realized he sinned and these 5 boys were wrongfully paying for it”. Once he confessed, they ran tests and every test they ran came back positive. Kory and Raymond were immediately released from prison and all charges were lifted for all 5 of them. Soon after, 3 of the central park five sued the state of New York and ended up receiving 41 Million dollars which all 5 of them split, Kory getting the most of the money, a total of 12.2 Million. To this day, Donald Trump does not regret wanting to bring back the death penalty and still believes that they are guilty.
I had never heard about this story until I watched “When They See Us” and it really opened my eyes even more on how messed up our country is. This isn’t just a TV show, this is real life and it amazes me how horrible our country can be. This series was beautifully done and if you are interested in this topic I would highly recommend this show. It shows all the pain and the perspectives of the 5 kids and it can get you pretty emotional. When They See Us isn’t a documentary it's an actual TV show and the story base is so awful it feels like it's a fictional story but only that it's not. It shows every detail on what these kids went through at such a young age and how it changed their lives forever.