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  1. #1

    Default “The Central Park Five” on PBS

    From The Denver Post:

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    Filmmaker Ken Burns has long referred to racism as America’s original sin.
    Now Burns turns his lens on one tragic instance of that sin, taking a micro-, understated approach to the jarring story of “The Central Park Five,” airing Tuesday on PBS (at 8 p.m. on Rocky Mountain PBS). Rather than build tension in the dramatic fashion of the too-familiar TV legal drama, the film opens with a simple statement of the miscarriage of justice in the infamous case in which five black and Latino teenage boys from Harlem were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman.
    Burns and co-producers David McMahon and Sarah Burns then revisit the racially charged 1989 Central Park Jogger case, interweaving the stories of the teens’ lives with an analysis of how anxious law enforcement, feverish media coverage, and pressured political and social institutions combined to push a wrongheaded hunch. The case had everything but pitchforks and torches at the time, as the city and nation demanded a villain or villains be punished. In interviews, the men, their families, journalists and historians weigh in.
    The boys’ lives were derailed. Anyone who remembers the case as it unfolded may agree the least we can do as citizens is witness the full story again with the benefit of hindsight. Those who didn’t observe this shameful episode as it happened may be shocked as they catch up now.
    “This case is a lens through which we can understand the on-going fault-line of race in America,” said Sarah Burns, who also wrote The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding, (Knopf, 2011). “These young men were convicted long before the trial, by a city blinded by fear and, equally, freighted by race. They were convicted because it was all too easy for people to see them as violent criminals simply because of the color of their skin.”


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