Central Park gate honors wrongly imprisoned ‘Exonerated 5’


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By Ted Shaffrey and Bobby Caina Calvin, Associated Press

Raymond Santana Jr., left, one of five men exonerated after being wrongfully convicted as teenagers for the 1989 rape of a jogger in Central Park, moves his hand over the words “Gate of the Exonerated” during a naming ceremony for the northeast gateway of Central Park. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

NEW YORK (AP) — At a small patch of Central Park flanking New York’s Harlem neighborhood, scores came Monday to remember the injustice that imprisoned five Black and Latino teenagers after they were wrongly accused and convicted of the 1989 rape of a white jogger.

They arrived in the chill of a late fall morning, some singing hymns, to dedicate a park entry to the men once known as the Central Park Five, but now remembered as the Exonerated Five.

The entryway, located on the northern perimeter of the park between Fifth Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard, will be known as the “Gate of the Exonerated.” It commemorates the miscarriage of justice that not only befell the five men, organizers say, but the unknown others who might have been wrongly imprisoned.

“This is a moment. This is legacy time,” said one of the men, Yusef Salaam.

“We are here because we persevere,” he said to a cheering crowd.

Monday was the first time Raymond Santana, another of the men, now in his 40s, has returned to Central Park since that fateful day 33 years ago.

Santana was 14 and Salaam was 16 when they and three others — Kevin Richardson, 14; Korey Wise, 16; and Antron McCray, 15 — were wrongly tried for the rape of a 28-year-old woman, whose brutal attack left her with permanent injuries and no memory of the assault. The high-profile incident prompted police to round up Black and Brown men and boys in connection with the rape.


The three men — Wise and McCray could not attend — spoke about how the criminal justice system is stacked against people of color.

The gate, they said, would stand as reminder of the injustice of the past but also of those still being committed today.

APnews.com has video of the event.

The five men have since been honored, but exoneration from a system perpetuating racism poses other difficulties.

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