The Central Park Five: ‘We Were Just Baby Boys’

In 1989 the men — then teenagers — were arrested in connection with the rape and assault of a white female jogger, and eventually convicted in a case that came to symbolize the stark injustices black and brown people experience within the legal system and in media coverage. They were convicted based partly on police-coerced confessions, and each spent between six and 13-plus years in prison for charges including attempted murder, rape and assault.

The men maintained their innocence throughout the case, trial and prison terms, and all were exonerated after Matias Reyes, a convicted murderer and serial rapist, confessed to the crime in 2002. In 2014, they were awarded a $41 million settlement, though the City of New York denied any wrongdoing.

.. In 2015, he tweeted the idea of a Central Park Five drama to DuVernay, who messaged him back with interest.

SANTANA Ava was always my choice to do this series. I never met the woman, I didn’t even know who she was, but I’d watched “Selma” — there’s a part where [Martin Luther King, Jr.] is confronted by [his wife] Coretta with recordings [of him with another woman], and I felt like that was bold to put in the film. By showing that, it showed the human side of this man who was put on a pedestal. And it told me that she had no fear of telling the truth.

One of my biggest fears as a person of color in this city, in this country is what happened to these men. There’s nothing more terrifying than telling your truth and telling it over and over and over again, but having people refuse to honor it as the truth.