After the Central Park Five
The Central Park Five talk about what the film means to them, how they met Sarah Burns, and what the screenings have been like.
(slow guitar music)
- Kevin is saying this happened,
Antrone is saying this happened.
They were stopping me during my retelling of the events
and saying, is this where you got the woman?
Is that where?
The tone was very, very scary.
I felt like these guys are really angry
and you know what, they might take us to the back
of the precinct and kill us.
My first meeting with Sarah Burns
was through Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson.
They had both met her personally before
and they said she's a cool person.
Go ahead and speak to her.
- When I first met Sarah, we sat there
and I looked at her.
I thought well she looks rather young,
looks younger than me.
Come to find out she was.
But we sat there and started to talk
maybe for about two hours.
- She just was fascinated with the case.
Through her research and her finding the facts
she became very outraged.
Then years later she approached us about writing a book.
At that point I felt like nobody else
had approached us to write a book so,
hey why not take a chance?
That led to the film.
- [Woman] I'm gonna ask you a few questions about-
- Here I am doing video tape
and I'm already deep in this.
I'm thinking now I gotta sell it.
Make sure that people know that I wasn't involved.
- [Woman] Were you trying to touch her?
- Not really.
- [Woman] Didn't you tell the police earlier today
that you had tried to grab her
and that's when you got scratched.
- The interviews, it was a little difficult
but at the same time it was a breath of fresh air.
We had never talked about this before.
- Just to relive that whole scene,
the whole, it brings you back.
You feel like you're 14 again.
- You have to relive those moments once again
and it opens up old wounds.
And you have to go through those feelings
and relive it.
But it was necessary, that was part of the healing process.
That was telling that on camera
and letting the whole world know what happened to you.
- It was like a relief.
Almost like getting, we felt like we were able
to get this out, get something out that had been
wound up and balled up inside of us for so long.
- This is a process that you have to go through.
If it means me telling a story
and me opening up old wounds could save somebody's life,
then it's worth it.
That's I always looked at it.
That's why I don't have a problem telling the story anymore.
- We first seen the private screening, all the guys,
it was quiet.
You could hear a pin drop.
When it was over, we all stood up,
Standing ovation 'cause they really
told our story.
- Right away we was like, can we put it out right now?
It was like no, not yet.
It's complete but we've got to put some finishing touches.
We were just ecstatic about the film
'cause it spoke for us.
And it got a chance for our voices to be heard finally.
Over 20 years and
it just felt like that rock that was always
on our shoulders was finally gonna be taken off.
- When we seen it, it was like this is powerful.
We couldn't wait for people to see this film.
- I went back and I told my family about it.
I was like look you guys gotta see it.
They're gonna have a screening for you guys,
for the family to see it.
It was awesome.
They was always -_ then too
because of how the media did them in.
I think for them watching the film
relieves a lot of pressure also.
- Somebody told me to freeze or I will shoot.
My fear even went on more so I just kept running.
One of the cops, he tackled me.
All my clothes was just all dirty and muddy.
He had a helmet and he swung it across my face.
And he handcuffed me and I said,
- It's a painful film to watch,
but it's a necessary film to watch.
For me, it brings me back to 1989 of course.
It brings me back to everything that happened
and everything that had gone on since then.
The whole prison time,
dealing with parole,
dealing with the Magnus Law.
Then being exonerated and then being let down by the system
because the system didn't,
just as they had a speedy method to put us into prison,
there was no speedy method to
compensate and right the wrong.
So here we are 10 years later still fighting the system.
- The first film I attended was the Toronto Film Festival.
That was the first time that I sat with an audience
and it was maybe four or 500 people.
You can feel like the tension in the air,
you can hear the emotion.
You can feel the emotion.
People were in there crying and people were upset.
When I walked on stage I got a standing ovation
which was like wow.
- To receive the applause is a warm welcome.
It was a beautiful welcome.
So whenever I found myself coming into and hearing
their applause and coming to their auditorium.
I calls it the house of justice.
- It's overwhelming to be honest
and still overwhelming now.
The reception was powerful especially when we see kids
and they're there watching
and asking us questions afterwards.
That's one of the biggest thrills of it.
- I was choked up, I couldn't even,
the first question came to me and I couldn't even answer.
I had to say look, come back.
Give me a couple of minutes 'cause I gotta take this all in.
- Everyone in the audience stands
and gives us standing ovations.
We see people crying, people wanna hug us.
That right there is like welcome home.
We need you back into society.
It's been tremendous.
That's been very tremendous.
- One other thing that was very powerful
when the five of us was together at the NYC
to see Antrone McCray.
He lives far away from New York.
- That night for him, that cry was very powerful.
He was bitter.
I would talk to him on the phone
and we always go back and forth about this case
and he was very bitter.
That night healed him.
- He was afraid actually to come around
to let his face be shown.
Because everything that happened to us
hurt everyone as well as our families.
To see him there,
and to speak and to fell the energy that we all felt.
- He had lost his faith like me.
That night he told the crowd because of their response
and the love that they gave him, it restored it.
- And that was powerful
just to see him there standing with his brothers
in the struggle and just being there together.
- He embraced me.
He embraced me,
told me they the loved me.
I'm good, he said I'm good.
Now it's time to go back home.
- These were five kids
who we tormented.
We falsely accused.
We pillared in the press.
We attacked, we invented phrases
for the imagined crimes
that we were accusing them of.
Then we put them in jail,
we falsely convicted them.
When the evidence turned out that they were innocent
and they were released,
we gave a modest nod to fairness
and we walked away from our crime.
- People always ask, is this something
that could happen again?
This case is a interesting case
because one of the thing that happens
with the Central Park Five,
the Central Park jogger case itself
is that you immediately realize that
these false confessions that came about
didn't come out of thin air.
The police officers gave them the information.
Everything that they told them was wrong
because when Matias Reyes came forth 13 years later
and told them exactly what happened,
nothing that had been recorded
13 years before was true.
Nothing could be substantiated.
You realize that how many countless other individuals
have gone through this same process
either before or after the Central Park jogger case.
- Now we are hoping that could put a stop to this.
We're proud have a platform to do so,
to let you know what we've been through.
We really don't wanna see anybody else go through that
because we managed to get out the situation.
But who is to say that another five kids
may not make it.
- Another step that we should look at is also
having social services or juvenile justice
have people at these precincts.
Have some part of these agencies.
Have them at the precinct beforehand
when the juvenile gets arrested.
- When a young person comes through the door,
immediately you have those social services there
to ensure that justice happens.
- By the time the kid is picked up in the precinct,
there should be a film right there.
- You want the cameras to start rolling
when you start interrogating.
- During that time,
a lot happens.
being bitter is not the right thing.
I believe that being bitter will only send
you to the grave actually faster.
- If you're careful about what's going on,
you can channel that anger into something positive.
Here we are, we can say let's talk to young people
which is something that we do all the time.
We've been in junior high schools,
we've been in high schools, we've been in colleges.
To be able to give back that way is tremendous
and it also allows us to heal.
- When I look at little Korey in the documentary,
I just find myself just being his attorney.
Make sure his word, his truth is out.
It almost feels like he's dead.
it almost feels like he's dead
because he endured a whole lot of trials and tribulation
- [Woman] Did you tell us the truth voluntarily?
- Yes ma'am.
- [Woman] Because you wanted to?
- This documentary that I'm thankful for
is a rebirth of him.
But the rebirth of him is me telling his story.
Quite sure he'd be thankful.
- We've never gone through any process where
the system has said, you know what,
you guys were done wrong.
We're gonna take you through therapy sessions
to make sure that you can be reentered into society.
We had to do that stumbling and falling.
We had to do that by the grace of God.
It doesn't do anything to remain bitter.
It doesn't do anything to remain angry.
Like they say don't cry over spilled milk, this happened.
- Before I didn't really know what my direction was.
I felt like I have a calling now
to speak to children and teenagers as well as adults.
- I never imagined when I was in prison
that things would turn out like this.
It's weird because when you're in prison,
sometimes you can't think past the day.
The fact that we survived prison was a miracle.
Then we weren't supposed to be able to survive
coming home from prison.
Every single door of success was supposed
to be shut in our faces.
The fact that we've been able to make something of ourselves
in spite of it all says a lot.