Netflix's 'When They See Us' Trailer Offers A Sobering Look At The Injustices Of The Central Park Five Case
April 19 marks 30 years to the day since a woman was attacked and raped in New York's Central Park, leading to the false convictions of five teenage boys. Timed to the anniversary of what quickly became a namesake case for racial injustice, Netflix has released the harrowing trailer for Ava DuVernay's When They See Us, the highly-anticipated series that will tackle the story surrounding the "Central Park Five." The nearly three-minute long trailer, which showcases a time jump of the five accused going from boys to men, helps to shed important light on the unfair interrogations and subsequent trials that unjustly kept them behind bars for years.
The four-part series, which will be available on the streaming platform May 31, brings the true story of the five teenagers (four Black and one Latinx) who were falsely accused and convicted of attacking a white female jogger in Central Park to life through an eye-opening lens that is sure to grapple the hearts of viewers everywhere. DuVernay's narrative will place focus on the young teens — all under the age of 16 at the time — whose lives were changed forever when they were arrested, tried, found guilty, and jailed for a crime they have since been proven not to have committed. Stamped with the stigmatic title of "The Central Park Five" in 1989, the group of boys would each spend between 6 and 13 years in prison before another man confessed to the crime in 2002, which was corroborated through DNA evidence.
A synopsis of DuVernay's project, which was shared by Netflix, offered a comprehensive breakdown of the events that will take place throughout the series. It explained,
“Based on a true story that gripped the country, When They See Us chronicles the notorious case of five teenagers of color, labeled the Central Park Five, who were convicted of a rape they did not commit. The series focuses on the five teenagers from Harlem — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise. Beginning in the spring of 1989, when the teenagers were first questioned about the incident, the series spans 25 years, highlighting their exoneration in 2002 and the settlement reached with the city of New York in 2014.”
Given DuVernay's past commitment of bringing racial injustice to light through film, there's no doubt that the story will emphasize the impact that the false accusations have had only the men affected, but also their families, and surrounding community who continue to be hurt by false accusations placed on them based on the color of their skin.
In a March 2019 tweet, which accompanied the series' first teaser trailer, DuVernay revealed that one of her main purposes with this project was to make sure that McCray, Richardson, Salaam, Santana, and Wise would no longer be known as the "Central Park Five," but by their given names. "Not thugs. Not wilding. Not Criminals. Not even the Central Park Five," she tweeted. "They are Korey, Antron, Raymond, Yusef, Kevin. They are millions of young people of color who are blamed, judged and accused on sight."
While their convictions were vacated in 2002, the group later filed a law suit against the city of New York, accusing police and prosecutors of "false arrest, malicious prosecution, and a racially motivated conspiracy," according to CNN. AM New York revealed that they were later awarded a $41 million settlement in 2014.
Three decades later, the "Central Park Five" case remains one of the most-widely discussed miscarriages of justice inflicted on the Black and Latinx communities. And now, thanks to Ava DuVernay, the conversation will appropriately give the a voice and opportunity to Korey, Antron, Raymond, Yusef, and Kevin to, at long last, share their stories.