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Arts & Culture

From infamy to exoneration: Central Park Five seek final resolution

Joe Linstroth/WKAR

On the night of April 19, 1989, a young white woman was raped in Central Park and left for dead. New York City was outraged by the crime. The next day police arrested 5 Black and Latino teenagers, and the media frenzy began.With scant incriminating evidence  and coerced inaccurate confessions, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana,  Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam were convicted.

More than a decade later, Matis Reyes, a convicted serial rapist, confessed to attacking the central park jogger. A positive DNA match backed up his claim, and the five were exonerated. Ken Burns’ film, “The Central Park 5” tells the story of the five exonerated men.

In 2003, the men filed a lawsuit against the City of New York for emotional distress, malicious prosecution, and racial discrimination. Ten years later the case is still not settled, but recent developments suggest it may be resolved soon.

Last week, Ken Burns told HuffPo Live that when New York Mayor elect Bill de Blasio takes office he will settle the case. Two of The Central Park 5, Yusef Salaam and  Raymond Santana, were in East Lansing for a film screening last week. Current State’s Emanuele Berry spoke with the pair shortly after Ken Burns’ announcement of de Blasio’s intention to settle the case once and for all. Yusef Salaam remembers the night that changed his life forever.

(This interview addresses sensitive topics and may not be suitable for all listeners).

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