Inside Life: NYC dedicates fate at Central Park to symbolize justice denied – Carib Vibe Radio

Inside Life: NYC dedicates fate at Central Park to symbolize justice denied

It took a long time coming, not since 1862 when a Board of Commissioners adopted a plan to name 20 entrances to Central Park “to be representative of the whole people” has New York City dedicated a symbolic marker to honor wrongly accused citizens.

The century old commitment resumed on Dec. 19, when Mayor Eric Adams showed up at 110th St. with other elected officials to witness the historic and belated unveiling of the Gate of the Exonerated which commemorates the experiences of Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Kairey Wise and Yusef Salaam, who were notoriously maligned the Central Park Five.

Teenagers in 1989, they were the profiled Black and Latinos members of the NYPD corralled and interrogated for a prolonged period in the absence of their parents. That in itself is illegal. Under-aged youths should not be subjected to the same treatment as adults. Following a contentious trial, the youths were indicted, convicted and became poster boys for a broken criminal justice system.

“Speaks to the issue of prisons, exoneration, incarceration,” Sharonne, the mother of the eldest of the accused said. Her son was 16-year-old.

Perhaps the most vocal of all the mothers, she said she is “exhausted from the struggle” to prove her son’s innocence.

Through a relentless campaign to expose corrupt police officers who she accused of coercing her son to confess to a heinous crime, Sharonne is now elated with the rebranded moniker to the Exonerated Five, the Harlem monument and that the convictions were vacated two decades ago.

A supportive crowd, including Rev. Al Sharpton and family members of the men rallied to witness the historic dedication between Fifth Ave. and Malcolm X Blvd.

Icing on the cake was that the second Black mayor of NYC handed the men keys to the city.

Significant to the marker is a permanent inscription on the perimeter on the stone wall to the entrance.

Information about the case and a QR code linking to online sources also distinguish the monument.

The 32-year belated victory for five adult Black men who were framed and permanently branded the Central Park Five when they were mere boys was celebrated.

They lived across the street at the Schomburg Plaza building. The park was their backyard however, on April. 19 1989 their names became synonymous with negative national headlines.

Their reputation was tarnished when media branded them a “wilding wolf pack.”

Would-be President Donald Trump joined the fray by taking out four, full page in newspapers calling for the death sentence.

Despite outcry from the Harlem community, and skeptics who questioned why no DNA evidence ever proved a link between the accused youths and the 28-year old investment banker they were convicted.

There were two adverse opinions, commercial media sided with the NYPD and the Manhattan District Attorney that Patricia Miele was bashed and raped and left for dead in a wooded area in the park by a gang of Black youths.

Damning videotaped confessions helped to seal convictions for rape, robbery, assault, and attempted murder.

In actuality, the accused were strangers to each other.

Throughout the trial, a small cadre of Black reporters posed a different perspective.

Covering the case was like walking into the lion’s den.

White colleagues stood their ground in denouncing the teenagers.

Daily, prosecutor and ADA Elizabeth Lederer walked stone-faced into State Supreme Court accompanied by assistants who toted boxes and boxes of evidence acquired by ADA Linda Fairstein the head of the sex crimes division.

Members of the NYPD had their own entourage.

And the mothers wore a permanent grimace on their faces that revealed the pain of their dilemma.

For them just trying to maneuver a path through throngs of media seemed a tedious task.

“It was indescribable, I remember it like it was yesterday,” Salaam said.
“Something was ripped out of my soul.”

Salaam was the only defendant who refused adhering to the police version. From the very beginning she maintained her son’s innocence.

After conviction and imprisonment, Wise met the culprit who terrorized the jogger. He was a serial rapist doing time for another crime. Allegedly he showed no remorse at times bragging that Wise was “doing my time.”

Eventually their convictions were vacated two decades ago.

Trump never apologized for his intervention.

America incarcerates more people than any other nation in the entire world.

Blacks represent a disproportionate number of that statistics.

Salaam wants to correct that injustice.

She continues to advocate for prison reforms.

Her formerly incarcerated son might be able to make a dent in the laws. Reportedly he is contemplating a run for a seat on the City Council.

If he does, and wins, likely his record and life experience will prove an asset to wrongly accused citizens.

The unveiling marks a long overdue symbol marking justice denied to wrongly accused New Yorkers and calls attention to a faulty criminal justice system which continues to incarcerate a mostly disfranchised population of people of color.

Catch You On The Inside!

Related Articles

Leave a Reply