Tag: “Central Park Five”

Ava DuVernay to Write and Direct Limited Series About Central Park Five at Netflix

Ava DuVernay (photo via Variety.com)

by Elizabeth Wagmeister via Variety.com

Ava DuVernay is continuing her relationship with Netflix, bringing a limited series about the Central Park Five case to the streaming giant. Netflix has greenlit the five-part scripted series for a 2019 debut. DuVernay created the project and will write and direct all five installments.

Participant Media, Tribeca Productions and Harpo Films are behind the limited series with Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King, Jane Rosenthal and Berry Welsh serving as executive producers alongside DuVernay. The project is the latest collaboration for Winfrey and DuVernay who worked together on the Oscar-winning “Selma” and OWN’s “Queen Sugar.”

For DuVernay, the project marks a return to Netflix for the filmmaker who wrote and directed the platform’s 2016 documentary “13th.” “I had an extraordinary experience working with Netflix on ’13th’ and am overjoyed to continue this exploration of the criminal justice system as a narrative project with Cindy Holland and the team there,” said DuVernay. “The story of the men known as Central Park Five has riveted me for more than two decades. In their journey, we witness five innocent young men of color who were met with injustice at every turn — from coerced confessions to unjust incarceration to public calls for their execution by the man who would go on to be the President of the United States.”

Based on the true story of the notorious Central Park Five case, each part of the limited series will focus on one of the five teenagers from Harlem — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise — who were wrongly convicted of raping Trisha Meili in Central Park. The series will span from the spring of 1989, when each were first questioned about the incident, to 2014 when they were exonerated and a settlement was reached with the city of New York.

To read full article, go to: Central Park Five Limited Series From Ava DuVernay Greenlit at Netflix | Variety

Three of ‘Central Park Five,’ Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana Jr., Receive High School Degrees at Bronx Preparatory Graduation

From left, Mr. Santana, Mr. Richardson and Mr. Salaam with Emmanuel George, executive director of the school. (Credit: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times)

by Elizabeth A. Harris via nytimes.com

The auditorium in the northwest Bronx was speckled with balloons. Balloons that said, “Congrats Grad!” and “You’re so special!” Balloons arranged on stage in columns of white, blue and yellow. Balloons in the shape of champagne bottles. And a parade of shiny floating letters that spelled out “Graduate of 2017.” Nearly 60 teenagers accepted diplomas from Bronx Preparatory High School there on Monday, amid all the usual trappings of a graduation ceremony. But for three men in their 40s who joined the teenagers onstage, wearing the same blue academic robes, the day was no less meaningful.

They were Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana Jr., three members of the Central Park Five. Years ago, they missed the graduation ceremonies for their own high schools because they were in prison for a crime they did not commit.On Monday, they received honorary diplomas and the capped, gowned feting they had been denied. “Even though we were not able to go back and right the wrong of not getting our high school diplomas outside, here we are being honored in such a way in front of our family and friends,” Mr. Salaam said from the stage, smiling broadly. “This is a blessing.”

The Central Park Five was a group of teenagers convicted of the brutal rape in 1989 of a woman who was jogging in Central Park. They refused plea bargains, insisting that incriminating statements they had made to the authorities had been coerced, and spent from seven to 13 years in prison. More than a decade after their conviction, the five men, all of whom are black or Hispanic, were exonerated. DNA evidence confirmed that the crime had been committed by another man, Matias Reyes, who confessed to acting alone.

The five have since reached settlements with New York City and the state totaling nearly $45 million, according to their lawyer. The youngest was 14 at the time of their arrest. The oldest was 16. A documentary about their ordeal called “The Central Park Five” was released in 2012, and a government teacher at Bronx Prep, Marielle Colucci, has used the movie as a tool to teach students about the justice system. This year, after her students asked if they could meet the men, Mr. Richardson spoke to their class.“The most important thing for me as a teacher is that they leave here knowing their rights and what they actually mean, and there is no one better to speak to that than these guys,”

Ms. Colucci said of her students, who are all members of minorities. “Because they could find themselves in that same situation right now when they walk out across the street.”Cassius Gil, the school’s assistant principal, said he had a conversation with Emmanuel George, the school’s executive director, after Mr. Richardson’s visit. Mr. Gil said they wondered: “Did they ever get a high school diploma? We should give them a high school diploma.”In fact, the three men did already have diplomas — each received a G.E.D., and then an associate degree, while still in prison. But they never had a ceremony, and a piece of paper in the mail is not the same.“It’s kind of emotional,” Mr. Santana said at the ceremony, which was at Lehman College in the Bronx.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/nyregion/central-park-jogger-case-honorary-diplomas.html?_r=2

Korey Wise Of “Central Park Five” Donates $190,000 to Help Fight Wrongful Convictions

Korey Wise (photo via cnews.com)
Korey Wise (photo via cnews.canoe.com)

The University of Colorado’s Innocence Project got a boost and a new name with a $190,000 donation from Korey Wise, a man exonerated in New York City’s high-profile Central Park jogger case.

The program, operated out of CU’s law school, is now named the Korey Wise Innocence Project at Colorado Law. Wise’s donation allowed the student-led volunteer program to hire a full-time director this fall and provides financial support for its investigative work.

The Innocence Project is a national nonprofit with chapters across the country that investigate claims of wrongful convictions. Colorado’s chapter was founded in 2001 under the Colorado Lawyers Committee and moved to the CU law school in 2010.

Wise was 16 when he was tried and convicted as an adult in connection with the 1989 attack and rape of a female jogger in Central Park.

He spent more than a decade in prison and was exonerated in 2002 after another man admitted to the attack and DNA testing confirmed his involvement. The convictions of the four other men accused in the attack were also overturned.

The men, who became known as the Central Park Five, settled with the city of New York for $41 million in 2014.

This is believed to be Wise’s first major philanthropic gift.

Continue reading “Korey Wise Of “Central Park Five” Donates $190,000 to Help Fight Wrongful Convictions”

NYC Awards $3.9M In 2012 Police Killing Of Unarmed Bronx Teen Ramarley Graham

Frank Graham (C), father of Ramarley Gragam, who was shot and killed by police officers in New York in 2012, speaks outside the New York Police Department Headquarters after marching in the National March Against Police Violence, which was organized by National Action Network, on December 13, 2014 in New York City. The march coincided with a march in Washington D.C. and comes on the heels of two grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Frank Graham (C), father of Ramarley Gragam, who was shot and killed by police officers in New York in 2012, speaks outside the New York Police Department Headquarters after marching in the National March Against Police Violence, on December 13, 2014 in New York City. The march coincided with a march in Washington D.C. and comes on the heels of two grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

New York City agreed Friday to pay $3.9 million to the family of a Bronx teenager shot to death by a white police officer in 2012.  The deal settled a federal lawsuit brought by the family of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham (pictured below).

“This was a tragic case,” said New York Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci. “After evaluating all the facts, and consulting with key stakeholders such as the NYPD, it was determined that settling the matter was in the best interest of the city.”

Attorney Royce Russell said the family will comment Monday.

Graham died after he was shot once in the chest in February 2012 in a tiny bathroom in the three-family home where he lived with his grandmother and other relatives.  Richard Haste, the officer who shot him, said he fired his weapon because he thought he was going to be shot. No weapons were found in the apartment.

Haste was indicted on manslaughter charges in the summer of 2012, but charges were dismissed by a judge who said prosecutors improperly instructed grand jurors to imply they should disregard testimony from police officers that they radioed Haste in advance to warn him that they thought Graham had a pistol. A second grand jury declined to re-indict the officer.

Manhattan federal prosecutors are conducting a civil rights investigation.

Ramarley Graham story

The Graham shooting has been cited during demonstrations after grand juries in Missouri and New York declined to indict police officers in the deaths last year of 18-year-old Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson and 43-year-old Eric Garner on a Staten Island sidewalk after he was put in a chokehold when he was stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. The deaths fueled a national conversation about policing and race.

The Graham deal adds to a series of settlements in high-profile civil rights claims against police, jail officers and the city under first-term Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Continue reading “NYC Awards $3.9M In 2012 Police Killing Of Unarmed Bronx Teen Ramarley Graham”

Central Park Five Lawsuit: New York City Mayor-Elect Bill De Blasio Agrees To Settle Decade-Long Case Over Wrongful Convictions

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(From L to R) Documentary subjects Raymond Santana, Yusef Salam and Korey Wise at the Hollywood screening of the movie about their case “The Central Park Five” during AFI FEST in Los Angeles, November 3, 2012. NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has agreed to settle their case. REUTERS

New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has agreed to settle the Central Park Five case — a decade-long, $250 million lawsuit brought by the five men wrongly convicted of beating and raping a jogger in Central Park on the night of April 19, 1989. Filmmaker Ken Burns, whose 2012 documentary “The Central Park Five” tells the story of that dark chapter in New York City history, confirmed the news during an appearance on HuffPost Live Tuesday.

“These kids served upwards of 13 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit,” Burns said. “After they got out, they were exonerated. They then launched a civil suit against the city of New York that’s now 10 years old, and the city has just stalled and refused to settle what is clearly something that benefits not just the Five and their families, but the detectives and prosecutors who made a mistake and the people of the city of New York, and the rest of us that all bought it lock, stock and barrel back in 1989.

“Bill de Blasio, the mayor-elect, has agreed to settle this case, and though this is justice delayed way too long, and that is justice denied, [they] will not only be exonerated … but they will have justice, they will see some closure, they will be able to be made whole,” Burns added.

Continue reading “Central Park Five Lawsuit: New York City Mayor-Elect Bill De Blasio Agrees To Settle Decade-Long Case Over Wrongful Convictions”