Monday, December 10, 2012

The Central Park Five

Kharey Wise, one of The Five
On the night of April 19, 1989, a young Manhattan banker went jogging through Central Park and happened upon Matias Reyes, a serial rapist wanted by authorities for a number of violent crimes, who proceeded to drag her into the woods and rape and beat her within an inch of her life. Meanwhile a gang of twenty or so black and Latino teenagers rampaged through the park, menacing a series of pedestrians and joggers. Of the boys nabbed by police, five (Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Kharey Wise, and Yusef Salaam) we interrogated, tried before a court and the vengeful public eye, and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for the sexual assault on the jogger--a crime that took thirteen years to be vindicated. "The Central Park Five" is a devastating documentary, achingly told through the eyes of the accused, and painstakingly presented by Sarah Burns, her husband David McMahon, and her famed historian/filmmaker father Ken. The film was developed from book she authored about the incident, which at the time was termed by many media outlets as "The Crime of the Century", and although it is a well-crafted, exacting presentation (qualities associated with her father's work) it blazes its own trail (I got the feeling that Mr. Burns assumed the role of a guide in the film's making). "The Central Park Five" presents the landmark case with clarity and depth, while telling a story of a beleaguered city, a brutish crime, a need for swift justice, and ultimately, an unfathomable loss of innocence.