- New York 09/05/2014 by Linda Perry (WBAI News)
Ray Santana, left; Sharonne Salaam, center, Yusef Salaam, right.
Photo: WBAI News
The Central Park Five, the black and latino youth who were railroaded, wrongly accused, coerced and imprisoned in the case of the Central Park Jogger back in 1989, waited for twenty-five years for justice. Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana were teens when their arrests and trials made national headlines and inflamed the City’s simmering racial tensions.
In recent news conferences, the Central Park Five expressed the anguish and hardship they went through and the pain their families experienced for all those years.
Today Federal Judge Ronald Ellis approved a $41 million settlement with the City. The money is to be divided among the men, about a million for each year they spent in prison. Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana who spent seven years in prison will each receive $7.125 million. Kharey Wise gets $12.25 million for the thirteen years he was imprisoned.
But the City is not admitting culpability. Zach Carter, the Corporation Counsel, said the prosecution at the time did their jobs properly. “This agreement should not be construed as an acknowledgment that the convictions of these five plaintiffs were the result of law enforcement misconduct. On the contrary, our review of the record suggests that both the investigating detectives and the Assistant District Attorneys involved in the case acted reasonably, given the circumstances with which they were confronted on April 19, 1989 and thereafter. In the end, however, that is an issue that would ultimately be determined by a jury at trial, absent a settlement of this litigation. We have determined that a resolution of this matter is in the best interests of the City.”
“This settlement is an act of justice for those five men that is long overdue,” said Mayor de Blasio in a statement released today. “The City had a moral obligation to right this injustice—which is why, from Day One, I vowed to settle this case. I commend the Law Department, led by Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter, for its efforts to reach a fair resolution of this matter that takes into account all relevant legal factors. With today’s approval by a federal judge, we can finally put this case behind us, and these five men and their families can begin to heal these wounds and move forward.”
Kevin Richardson said the struggle continues. “Everywhere is another Central Park Five, so we must have closure and stop this before it happens again."