Short Takes: The Central Park Five
Out of the 3,254 rapes reported in New York City in 1989, it was a brutal attack on a Central Park jogger that gripped the populace and helped create the notion of the "superpredator." Here, a team including Ken Burns and his daughter Sarah tells the story of five Harlem teens wrongfully convicted of raping and beating a white woman to near death—then exonerated after years in prison by DNA evidence and the confession of a serial culprit. The men, all under 16 at the time of the rape, recount their helplessness in the face of police intimidation and a vengeful public. Perhaps the film's most haunting aspect is the refusal, by police and prosecutors who ignored exonerating evidence and sent five boys upriver, to offer the filmmakers a word of remorse.
This review originally appeared in the January/February issue of Mother Jones.