Video on Demand — December 2012

Video pick of the month

The Central Park Five

If you have a confession, then you have a conviction. At least that was the open-and-shut premise at the heart of the Central Park Jogger case. After a white Wall Street banker from the Upper East Side was raped, beaten, and left for dead on April 19, 1989, while out for her nightly run in the park, police immediately rounded up a group of black and Hispanic teenagers from Harlem accused of “wilding,” a dubious term that denoted the terrorizing of random citizens by young hoodlums. Five boys, ages 14 to 16, were eventually charged with the assault—solely on the basis of their videotaped “confessions” — and sent to prison. Subsequent DNA evidence pointed to serial rapist Mathias Reyes, who confessed to the crime while behind bars at Rikers, and the convictions of the five young men were vacated in 2001, years after they’d completed their sentences. In The Central Park Five, filmmakers Ken Burns, his son-in-law Dave McMahon, and daughter Sarah Burns (whose 2011 book provided the basis for the film) untangle the weld of details — from questionable interrogation procedures and conflicting testimonies to the anger and hysteria fueled by police, prosecutors, city pols, and outrageously hostile news reports — that resulted in the wrongful convictions of Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, and Yusef Salaam. (Damon Smith)

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