THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE

New York City today is a thriving metropolis of culture, art, politics and commerce. Flashback to 1989 and you will see a totally different city. Plagued by crime, poverty, drugs and fear, New York of that era was a truly frightening place. Race riots, crime sprees, crack cocaine all contributed to its image. It was the Gotham City that the League of Shadows wants to eliminate in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy. Quite possibly, the signature crime of that era was the Central Park Jogger case. A young woman, an investment banker was running through Central Park on a spring evening in April of 1989. She was brutally beaten and raped. Doctors said she might survive, but would never be normal again. THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE tells the story of the five black teenagers arrested, charged and convicted of the crime. One problem. They were all innocent. The documentary paints a picture of a police force and District Attorney’s office blind in their pursuit of resolving the crime quickly. The media that was an all too willing participant and how the lives of five generally good kids were ruined. No surprise that this is an outstanding documentary, Ken Burns had a huge hand in making it. It’s shocking, disturbing and though provoking. A great window into a totally embarrassing episode in the history of criminal justice (or injustice) in this country. And a lesson too. Just because the media says someone has been arrested, doesn’t make them guilty. — Alan Yudman

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