Uploaded by Austen Rerick

Central Park Five

The Central Park Five
Cause Célèbre
HIST 726- Professor Lavender
By: Austen Rerick
Basic Facts
• On the night of April 19, 1989, Trisha Meili went for a
jog in Central Park. Several hours later, the 28-year-old
investment banker was found brutally beaten and
raped, left to die in a ravine.
• Meili, who suffered a fractured skull, was one of several
victims of violent crime that took place in Central Park
that night. A roaming group of more than 30 youths
between the ages of 13 and 17 were suspected of
assaulting other joggers, a couple and a homeless
• The Central Park Five are Raymond Santana, Kevin
Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Kharey
Wise. All were ages 14 -16.
Cultural Context
The crime occurred at a time in which the New York
City Police Department was reaffirming its presence
as “front-line soldiers” in the impending “War on Crime
In January 1964, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller introduced two new anti-crime laws:
“stop-and-frisk,” and “no-knock” warrants.
• These laws were part of a campaign “to reestablish law and order.”
• “Whenever a crescendo of racist fear and guilt begins to build in the white
community, the outcome is a frenzied hue and cry, brutal arrests and hysterical
trial of multiple black defendants accused of a crime so monstrous that the whole
apparatus of the state backed by a totally terrorized and convinced public opinion
can be brought into a direct onslaught against them.”- Truman Nelson
Issues with the Case
• After equating the case of Meili with that of the other assaults in the park that night, investigation
decided that their perpetrators were a part of the earlier incidents.
• The five defendants all confessed to the crime and four of them excluding Salaam were recorded during
their confessions. However, it quickly became apparent that there were major inconsistencies in their
confessions in regards to major elements of the assault.
• The defendants also claimed that these confessions were coerced as they were deprived of sleep, water
and food for over 24 hours during interrogation.
Issues Continued
• At the scene of the crime the prosecution
could not find any DNA evidence that connected
the five defendants to the crime.
• However, the prosecution did find a sock with
traces of seminal fluid which did not match any
of the suspects.
• The prosecution did not divulge this information
Which was a breach of the defendant’s rights.
• This constitutes Guilt by Omission !!
The Case Resolved
• McCray, Salaam and Santana were sentenced to 5 to 10 years in an upstate juvenile detention
facility. Richardson also was sentenced to 5 to 10 years in a juvenile facility.
• Wise, the only teen tried as an adult, was sentenced to 5 to 15 years.
• The Central Park Five served between 5 and 12 years but all of them had been released before
their convictions were vacated in 2002.
• Mattias Reyes, a convicted murderer and serial rapist, was serving a minimum 33-year prison
sentence when he confessed to the crime. His DNA matched genetic material found at the crime
Why is this a Cause Célèbre?
“I want to hate these muggers and murderers.
They should be forced to suffer.”- Donald Trump