Last October, a month before he was elected President of the United States of America, Donald Trump doubled down on one of his earlier despicable opinions: That the so-called “Central Park Five” were guilty after all. Normally this would be a legit insane belief, but then, well, you know. The five youths — four black and one Hispanic — were charged with the rape of a female jogger in 1989. They served jail time and only in 2002 were they exonerated after the real assailant, one Matias Reyes, belatedly confessed. DNA evidence even proved Reyes was guilty and that the CP5 had, beyond a shadow of a doubt, been wrongfully imprisoned.
But The Donald’s gonna The Donald. Around the time of the “grab ’em by the pussy” comments that didn’t alienate his supporters either, the reality TV star who now has the nuclear codes and can’t wait to go full dictator and shut down the free press said he didn’t need no DNA evidence or a confession from the real perp. He demands loyalty so much he even requires it of himself. 2016 Donald stuck by 1989 Donald, who reportedly spent $85,000 taking out full-page ads in the four major NYC newspapers, stoking white fear and calling for the death penalty for five minorities who would later be proven innocent.
Today, the now freed CP5 members probably have nothing to worry about, but, well, you know. At least Ava DuVernay (and all sane people) has their backs. The acclaimed filmmaker just announced she’s returning to Netflix, for whom she last year gifted the Oscar-nominated doc “13th,” to write and direct a limited series doc on the Central Park Five.
DuVernay’s “13th” was a bracing, fiery, Howard Zinn-style “alternate history” of America that focused on how its black populace were targeted even after the Emancipation Proclamation allegedly made them equals to whites. Expect no pulled punches from her Central Park Five series. According to the press release issued yesterday, the project will spend an episode on how each youth was railroaded by the criminal justice system. No doubt the Orange Menace will score sweet real estate in it, because DuVernay’s not the type of person who’d deny someone access based on skin color.
How DuVernay has the time to do this is anyone’s guess. This spring the director — best known for “Selma” — wrapped shooting on “A Wrinkle in Time,” her $100 million adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic fantasy novel, while the second season of her show “Queen Sugar” just premiered on OWN. All in all, she’s getting far more done than the guy who lost the popular vote.
In the meantime, we recommend watching another doc on the subject: “The Central Park Five,” co-directed by Ken Burns (and, we should add, one of his rare shorter works):