When he becomes mayor, Bill de Blasio will finally put to rest one of the most tragic and racially charged cases in New York history.
In 1990, five kids were convicted for raping a woman jogging in Central Park. The boys, known as the “Central Park Five,” lived in prison for over a decade, but had their sentences vacated in 2002, when another person confessed to the crime and DNA evidence linked him to the case. But the suit they filed ten years ago asking the city to recognize and remunerate them for a wrongful conviction was never settled.
It will be under Bill de Blasio — at least according to filmmaker Ken Burns, who last year made a documentary on the Central Park Five case.
“Bill de Blasio, the mayor-elect, has agreed to settle this case,” Burns told the Huffington Post on Tuesday, “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.”
As the New York City media, public, and law enforcement all bought into the story back in the 90s, the boys’ names were dragged through the mud. The case carried heavy racial overtones: Four of the boys (now men) are black, one is Latino, and their advocates say race was a major contributing factor in the public’s willingness to believe they were responsible.
“The shame is,” one of the Five, Yusef Salaam, told the Huffington Post last year, “you know you didn’t do it. You can’t prove that you didn’t do it, with the exception of your word. And everyone else thinks you did.”
The civil suit the Five have filed is worth $250 million dollars. The next hearing on the case, set without de Blasio’s interference, is scheduled for January 21.