I Watched When They See Us & I Wouldn’t Live In The US If You Paid Me.
The whole world is talking about When They See Us, but here’s a quick recap - it’s a mini-series which follows the case of Kevin, Raymond, Antron, Korey, and Yusef, five black and Latino teenage boys who are falsely convicted in the Central Park Jogger case. In April 1983, a woman was brutally raped and assaulted in Central Park, and this case was one of the most high profile cases in US History. The five boys were coerced into confessing (surprise, surprise) and sentenced to 5–14 years in prison. In 2002, the real rapist/perpetrator came forward and they were exonerated. However, most of them had already served their prison sentences.
Boys Will Be Boys
I’m not alien to male privilege — men get to do what they want to whoever they want and get away with it. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that men can act in any way with no consequences — Brock Turner, Michael Jackson, etc.
But, not all boys can be boys. There’s a racial hierarchy clear as day here and as the series narrator says — “when they say boys will be boys they’re not talking about us. They’re talking about other boys from other places.”
This is especially true in the 1980s when black appropriation and discrimination was very common if not at its peak. The culture of “wilding”, was completely misunderstood by white folks and it’s for “wilding out” that most kids got into trouble. Michael K Williams who plays Antron’s father shared his experience during the wilding era in the 80s. If you’ve noticed, he has a huge scar from the top of his forehead to his chin — this he got when a group of teenagers jumped him and attacked him. Being a victim of wilding himself, and many others who have been in that position, wilding was definitely something the police wanted to nip in the bud.
It also comes through in the first episode, when all the boys are put in the room together (minus Korey) and Kevin says “Why are they doing us like this?” and Raymond says “What other way did they ever do us?”
Korey Had An Alibi — He Was Eating At A Restaurant With His Girlfriend
For anyone that’s watched the mini-series or the documentary (by Ken Burns called Central Park Five), Korey’s incarceration was the worst to watch. Here’s a kid with learning disabilities (and yes it is relevant to his life and the position he was put in), who skips school and isn’t given much attention or tended to, a happy-go-lucky kid who loves eating chicken and hanging out with his friends. The only reason he even goes down there is to BE THERE FKR HIS BUDDY, Yusef. And he doesn’t see the light of day for 14 years. During this time, Korey is physically, psychologically, and sexually assaulted by multiple guards and inmates. His time in solitary makes him go nuts, hallucinate, and fucks with his general well being. I don’t know about you, but the way Korey Wise (the real one) speaks even today is very indicative of the kind of things he’s been put through.
One of the questions I had was: why didn’t the lawyers use Kory’s alibi? And I realised that Korey’s case was just tried separately than the others cause he was 16 at the time. Also, Korey couldn’t afford a lawyer and between his drug-addled mother and him being held in jail and isolated from the rest, Korey’s defense just failed him.
NO DNA Evidence, Wrong Locations & Just (Coerced) Confessions
What is appalling and crazy about the show is what was going through the minds of the jurors. The defense did a tidy job of presenting hard evidence — The DNA from the sock didn’t match the kids, the kids fumbled all through their confessions and got the locations wrong. The kids have no priors, no history of violence. The only thing the prosecution did was shove the confession tapes on the jurors. This series is a wake-up call for everyone who doesn’t believe in forced confessions. FORCED/COERCED confessions are real — these kids are questioned for 14–32 hours without food, without water, psychologically and physically abused, and promised by cops that they can “go home” if they tell them what they want to hear. Watch The Confession Tapes to learn more about coerced confessions leading to convictions.
The Detective On The Jogger Case Was Also On The Reyes Case
The detective who took lead in the Jogger case had also been on a case just a few days ago. A woman had been raped and assaulted by a man very close to Central Park just days before the Jogger case. But, of course, instead of putting two and two together and at least TESTING the DNA, he decided to pick on some black kids and force them into confessing.
NO MONEY Can Be Redemption For These Boys
41 million USD isn’t enough, the world celebrating their bravery isn’t enough. These boys lost the most productive years of their lives, their childhoods, in prison. The public, media, and justice system failed them and these boys will never get to be boys. Antron’s trauma continues to this day- he gets panic attacks and he is broken because of his time in prison. “Nothing can fix me,” he says. The only way redemption can even be thought of is to know their story, be aware that shit like this happens all the time, and support the innocent and wrongly convicted.
White Folks Loved Trump Back Then, No Wonder He Became President, Lol
Trump took out front page ads in all NYC papers at the time (which cost 85,000 USD) asking for the death penalty for these kids. Everything is wrong with that sentence.
Let’s Not Let Elizabeth Lederer Off The Hook
There’s a scene in the series where Elizabeth gets a jolt, she realises they have no case against the boys, hell, it might not even be the boys who committed the crime, and she speaks to Linda Fairstein. And Linda is able to feel her into this preposterous idea that the kids killed her by throwing around a few sympathetic words for the rape victim. Elizabeth had the chance to end it then and there, but she fought the case to wrongfully convict these boys. Oh, and she taught law at Columbia….
Linda Fucking Fairstein Deserves To Lose Everything
The main culprit. If she had at any point used her brain control her actions instead of her racism, she might have found the actual rapist. Since the series came out, she’s stepped down from a few fancy charities and organisations and has been dropped by her publisher. She still maintains that the boys did it.
All Said And Done, Thank You, Matias Reyes, For Telling The Truth (No Matter How Late It Was)
The gross miscarriage of Justice by the NYPD affected the boys' lives even after release, they couldn’t get jobs and make a life for themselves because they were indicted in this crime that they did not commit. And I strongly think that if Matias hadn’t come forward, these boys would have never been exonerated. The world had forgotten about them anyway so do I really think anybody from the police would have reopened the case for investigation because they thought: “hmm maybe I got that one wrong”? NOPE.
4 Women Could Have Been Saved
It’s not just the boys’ lives that were ruined, but also around 3–4 women who were raped, assaulted, and one even killed. The most gruesome case was a pregnant woman who Matias raped and popped her eyes out with a butter knife — all while her two kids were in the next room. If the police had done their job (and by job I don’t mean framing black and Latino teens) these women would be safe.
I don’t think any of the boys even knew what rape was when they walked into that precinct. The way Korey says “this is my first rape and it’ll be my last" is the exact opposite of anything an actual rapist would say. The way they described sex was in response to questions by the police. They didn’t reconstruct this. They were asked questions like “did you grab her t***s” and “did you stick your d**k in her”. And the boys just said yes and made up this story that they didn’t even know about. After watching the real Exonerated Five, my heart is with Korey Wise. No amount of money or — nothing can be redemption, ever.
The series and the case is a strong indicator and proof that the justice system is fucked up in the US and that minority groups can be stopped anytime and have their freedom taken away.
Have things changed in the US for non-white people? Before you answer that — Just a few days ago, Nick, a 17-year-old boy in Brooklyn was physically assaulted by police and arrested and charged after being cleared of a crime. Oh, and he’s not white.
This series is difficult to watch, but you need to watch it — just cause something doesn’t affect you directly doesn’t mean you can be ignorant about it.