April 22, 2003


Over the next several weeks I will post extensively on the Central Park 5. This past Saturday was the 14th anniversary of the rape of Patricia Meili. The racial maelstrom that followed that attack and still effects New York City is evident today.

While Matias Reyes is a monster that should be held accountable for his actions, persecutors prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, NYPD officers and investigators, the white press, politicians, neo-politicians and a gullible public should also be held responsible for the racist treatment suffered by Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Jr., and Kharey Wise and the implications their vilification and convictions had on the entire Black and Latino communities of New York City. Indeed, their families suffered tragically on a very personal level. Santana lost his mother years ago and most of the young men have strained relationships with their relations.

Up next: a Central Park 5 FAQ, list of players in the case and reports, articles and editorials from the very early stages of the case.

From the front page of The City Sun, April 26 - May 2, 1989


That anyone would set out to stalk, brutally beat and sexually assault a young woman and then leaver her for dead is more than an outrage; it is condemnable. That a tragic situation such as this would be used by politicians, the police, and the press to accomplish their own base agencies is beneath contempt.

From the very outset of the case it was clear what the intent was: to use an undeniably heinous crime, whose victim still is hospitalized and comatose as a result of her injuries, to fan the flames of racial divisiveness and hatred. That lends itself to lurid headlines and lurid headlines sell papers. That livens up the boob tube with invective. That gives cops a chance to show New York who the "real" criminals are and why we have neither law nor order. That provides a solid soapbox on which politicians can stand as they call for legislative "reforms" in the name of humanity, decency and the American Way.

We are outraged that anyone should suffer, as the young woman in Central Park evidently did, the kind of brutality she was subjected to. Our sympathies are with her and with her family as she struggles for life at Metropolitan Hospital.

But our sympathies are with our community also. For we continue to be subjected to a duality of treatment that has its roots firmly anchored in racism.

That same media that refused to print or say that Tawana Brawley was raped had no difficulty summarily in stating so in the case of the Central Park victim. The same media that demanded Brawley "prove" her sexual assault made no such demands in the Central Park case. The same media that had no difficulty identifying the underaged Wappingers Falls teen-ager by name, invading the sanctity of her home to show her face and even televising seminude pictures of her while she was in the hospital have been careful to avoid identifying the Central Park woman; in one case, a television station even issued an apology to the victim's family and to the viewing public for having made the error. The same media that would not accept a Black female teen-ager's story that as many as six white men sexually assaulted her have no journalistic problem difficulty stating as fact that Black boys sexually assaulted the white woman in Central Park. They tell us that only young Black men go "wilding;" young white men never do.

Within hours of the incident the cops could "solve" the crime complete with "arrests," "questioning of suspects," "statements" by the alleged rapists, and even "confessions." And the wheels of the criminal-justice system turned rapidly; indictments may be handed up by the end of the week. No suspects were rounded up in the Brawley case because, as state Attorney General Robert Abrams told New York, "there may not have been a crime committed here" and even if one was, "it was consensual."

Would Abrams dare repeat his asinine claim that the Central Park jogger "fabricated" her injuries? Would Abrams or Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau issue a report exculpating the alleged wrongdoers of this crime? No! Would the state have assigned 60 detectives and other investigative personnel full time to probe the Brawley case? No!

And then there are the politicians and the neopoliticians. Suddenly they all know the appropriate thing to say and the appropriate thing to do. Some, like Koch and Cuomo, are quick to talk tough about crime and about swift and certain punishment--the same rhetoric that was absent in the Brawley case. Others, like David Dinkins, who helped compromise interest of justice in both the Brawley and Howard Beach cases, have appointed themselves the dubious task of "healing" New York. We will see a few of these "leaders" in the coming weeks acting as apologists for the Black community, as if the entire Black community of New York attacked and assaulted the jogger in Central Park.

We must be clear: The unfortunate attack on the woman is unforgivable, inexcusable and indefensible. Those who committed that heinous act must be punished and to the fullest extent of the law. But application of the law must be evenhanded and fair: the duality that exists also is unforgivable, inexcusable and indefensible. It cannot consistently be the position among the politicians, the police and the white press that on the one hand nothing applies but on the other everything does. It cannot be that similar situations should yield such disparate reactions and results.

Posted by ronn at April 22, 2003 05:20 PM