A must-read after watching Ava DuVernay's When They See Us
In this spellbinding account of the real facts of the Central Park jogger case, Sarah Burns powerfully reexamines one of New York City's most notorious crimes and its aftermath.
On April 20th, 1989, two passersby discovered the body of the "Central Park jogger" crumpled in a ravine. She'd been raped and severely beaten. Within days five black and Latino teenagers were apprehended, all five confessing to the crime. The staggering torrent of media coverage that ensued, coupled with fierce public outcry, exposed the deep-seated race and class divisions in New York City at the time. The minors were tried and convicted as adults despite no evidence linking them to the victim. Over a decade later, when DNA tests connected serial rapist Matias Reyes to the crime, the government, law enforcement, social institutions and media of New York were exposed as having undermined the individuals they were designed to protect.
Here, Sarah Burns recounts this historic case for the first time since the young men's convictions were overturned, telling, at last, the full story of one of New York’s most legendary crimes.
Everyone in New York City (and likely beyond) is familiar with the beginning of the story of the "Central Park Jogger," a white woman who was raped and left for dead in 1989. What happened next, though, is far less well known, making this powerful book feel especially necessary as it answers the question ("whatever happened to those kids?") that became as troubling as the horrific event itself. In her first book, Burns bravely revisits the details of that night, along with the months and years that followed. Weaving together extensive interviews with the teenage boys (now men) initially convicted and their families, while simultaneously providing extensive cultural context, Burns examines the forces that ultimately obliterated any genuine or humane attempt to uncover the truth. Astoundingly, despite such methodical research, no mention is made of Joan Didion's seminal 1991 essay, "Sentimental Journeys," which originally articulated most (if not all) of these same challenges to the city's psyche. However, Burns deserves credit for bringing the injustice these young men endured to light in the 21st century. As she draws attention to Mayor Bloomberg's recent mention of "wilding," it's clear that the city's narrative continues to ignore the poor until someone is needed to blame. A documentary with Burns's father, Ken, is in the works.
Well written and informative
Enjoyed the read, although the incompetence of the legal system in NY at the time is enough to make a nun curse.