The Central Park Conservancy announced naming an entrance after Central Park Five.
33 years ago, a group of Black and Latino teens, ages 14-16, were falsely convicted of a crime after being coerced to admit involvement with the rape and assault of a white woman who was jogging in Central Park. Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Korey Wise and Kevin Richardson’s sentencing ranged from six to 13 years in prison before they were exonerated in 2002. In 2017, Ava DuVernay told their story, which won an Emmy Award.
“Today’s unanimous vote is the capstone of years of work with the Harlem community, Manhattan Community Board 10, and NYC Parks to commemorate the Exonerated Five and all those wrongfully convicted of crimes. The Central Park Conservancy has worked alongside the Harlem community for more than 40 years, and we are proud to have helped the Gate of the Exonerated come to life in a way that emphasizes how Central Park is meant to be a place for everyone,” The Central Park Conservancy said in a statement.
The Gate of the Exonerated will include a historical plaque that tells the significance of the Central Park Five and a QR code that’ll take you to online sites for resources. The words “Gate of the Exonerated” will also be engraved into the perimeter wall.
Sharonne Salaam, the mother of Yusef Salaam, spoke during a City Hall hearing, saying, “This Gate of the Exonerated will be … the first of its kind within the United States and possibly in the world that speaks to the idea of exoneration of people. When you look at that concept, you say to yourself, well, how do we heal this? Because somewhere we are going wrong and we’ve got to sit down and fix it somehow.”
Gale Brewer, Council Member for the 6th District of Manhattan, said, “This gate will say to those who are exonerated and their families and their friends, you matter, you are on a gate, you are in Central Park, you are in Harlem, you have meaning, you are part of our community.”
The gate will be located on the north end of Central Park at 110th Street, between Fifth Ave and Malcolm X Blvd. This honor is long overdue and everyone must be reminded of the flawed justice system we’re up against. New York City Mayor Eric Adams is grateful for the progress being made, calling it a “moment of truth and reconciliation for New York City.”
The gate will be unveiled December 19th. We hope everyone takes the time to visit and learn!
Photo: D. Dipasupil/Getty Images/ Associated Press/ James Estrin/New York Times