America was supposed to be better in the late 1980’s. Racism was supposed to have been a thing of the past. Tell that to the Central Park 5 and the things they went through. Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam and Kevin Richardson were the five black kids who were plucked out a neighborhood search targeting Black men in the 80’s in connection with a jogger who was raped. There was no evidence they raped her. There was not even evidence they were in the same vicinity of the rape happening. And it was obvious they were being pressured into saying statements the police wanted. The boys just wanted to go home and after hours of pressuring, punishment and coercion, they crafted stories in their minds of what they though happened all with the thought that if they told them what they wanted to hear they would go home. Little did they know their lives would never be the same. They all went to jail for different amounts of time and lost the rest of their childhood and some of their adult life. They were all eventually released and exonerated in the end, but their lives will be forever affected and in some’s eyes, they are still guilty.
While 1989 is over 20 years ago, things like what happened to the Central Park 5 is still happening in America. Just take a look around the things happening in America. The justice system is not built for us at all. It seems like every month there are more Black men and people of color being unjustly punished, sent to jail and even dying. And in just about every instance, there is a white person or group of white people that think “Well he/she must have done something” like there is no way the police could do something wrong or made an error. And every time it is brought to the attention of police, as usual, the response is always catered towards the police either making a mistake or being within their rights to do what they did. The protests are looked at as disruptive by some instead of what they were intended for and it seems like the voices we are raising aren’t necessarily heard.
In light of all these injustices that were present before and certainly are here after 1989, there needs to be change and the change needs to happen now. Police need to be held accountable for their actions. Time and time again, we see police officers treating Black and Brown people with no respect at all and in situations where Black people should have been able to go home that night, there have been many who end up dead unjustly. In those instances, it almost always seems the police don’t get any punishment at all. The justice systems needs to stop seeing the uniform and see what that person who is supposed to protect people did. And no matter if they are a police officer or not, they need to be punished. The more they are held accountable, the more these things will be known to not be tolerated by the law. Along with the police being held accountable, the world itself needs to realize that Black people aren’t just making these things up. In many of these instances, there have been white people that have taken to social media to quickly support the police and create any and all reason why the Black person involved was guilty. Maybe if they took a second to actually review what happened instead of automatically saying “well he had to do something” or “if he had done____ then this wouldn’t have happened”. The association with police always being right has to stop. Wrong is wrong no matter what uniform the guilty party is wearing.
While it was good The Central Park Five were exonerated, they never should have been in that predicament to begin with. And like them, there are others that have had hard times with the police, not only in New York but across the country to this day. When does the time come where Black people are not looked at as a danger but as human beings? Who knows when that will happen, but it’s getting pretty frustrating waiting on that time to come.