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Report: NYC Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio Agrees To Settle Central Park Five $250 Million Civil Suit

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by Tambay A. Obenson
November 13, 2013 4:29 PM
13 Comments
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Changes are afoot with Bill de Blasio now Mayor-elect of New York City, succeeding Michael Bloomberg


A PIX11 news report here in New York City is saying that Blasio plans to settle the Central Park Five lawsuit against the city, which was filed a decade ago.

Recapping...

The one thing that struck me, and continued to stay with me long after seeing Ken Burns' excellent documentary, The Central Park Five, is the fact that the titular gentlemen, now all adults, after serving lengthy sentences in prison for a crime they didn't commit, are still fighting for justice vis-à-vis the unresolved civil suit, which they filed against the City of New York for their wrongful imprisonment, almost 10 years ago.

In 2002, all convictions against the 5 men were dismissed due to new evidence (including DNA) that suggested a previously convicted murderer-rapist was the culprit. A year later, in 2003, a multi-million-dollar federal lawsuit was filed by the 5 men for malicious prosecution, racial discrimination and emotional distress - a case, if you're intimately familiar with the particulars of the matter, or have seen Ken Burns' least subjective documentary, you'd believe would be a slam-dunk and should've been settled almost immediately.

Yet, 10 years later, the 5 men continue to wait for justice to serve them - the same so-called justice that rushed to convict them, despite the fact that there were holes in the evidence that was against them at the time; notably, and maybe most significantly, the fact that the DNA from none of the 5 men was found anywhere within the crime scene - an important piece of evidence that was glazed over, in favor of coerced testimony, without lawyers present, from each of the 5 then teens.

But that was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg; there was far more evidence that suggested they had nothing to do with the Central Park rape that took place in New York City's Central Park on April 19, 1989, than there was that would incline any officer of the court or jury to convict them of it.

The film was subpoenaed by lawyers representing NYC, wanting to examine outtakes and unused interview footage, which they hoped would help their defense against the $250 million suit. 

Burns, who co-directed the documentary with his daughter, Sarah Burns, and her husband, David McMahon, called the subpoena “outrageous,” and vowed to fight it, citing New York State’s shield laws, which are designed to protect journalists from having to compromise their sources.

It didn't take very long for a New York City federal court to block the attempt by New York City, ruling that the filmmakers had "established its independence in the making of the film," and could claim the privilege.

It’s been almost ten years,” Burns added. “Justice delayed is justice denied.

Indeed.

And thankfully, Mayor-elect de Blasio, despite the intransigence on the part of the cops and prosecutors, has agreed to settle the case.

Whether or not the $250 million settlement figure is still in play, isn't yet known - a sum which PIX11 says will likely "cripple the city" if paid out.

Attorneys for the CP5 argue that their lives were stolen from them, and that "it’s incumbent on those in this city who believe in truth, who believe in justice, who believe in morality to impress on Mr. de Blasio and others who have a responsibility of bringing about a proper settlement to make that a reality."

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13 Comments

  • Tara | February 8, 2014 7:56 PMReply

    I am watching the Central Park 5 documentary and find it very disturbing. I hope these people get the restitution money that they deserve...what an evil thing to do to innocent people.

  • Donella | December 12, 2013 10:23 AMReply

    It would certainly cripple NYPD which seems to need breaking down and rebuilding.

  • Barbara | November 14, 2013 8:25 PMReply

    I watched that Ken Burns documentary. It was so sad what they did to those children. I hope they finally get the money they are suing for. The racist mongering Media should be sued too.

  • Ava | November 14, 2013 4:57 PMReply

    Sadly, I'm not surprised that Bloomberg (whom I never voted for-wouldn't want that stain on my conscience) would not settle, even though, settling would have been the decent and correct thing to do because this is the same man who refuses to acknowledge the injurious nature of 'Stop & Frisk', (wrongly) crediting the tactic to lowering crime (which has been decreasing since the '90s).
    I can remember seeing the case on the evening news every. single. night. As a young girl with an older brother just a few years younger than these boys, it was not a good feeling to see how much the press demonized these kids. I'm not exaggerating this-- anyone who was not privy to the local NYC press may not fully grasp how much disdain for these kids was spat out in most mainstream news coverage (terms like 'Wildin', which used to be a playful term, kind of equivalent to 'Buggin Out', made the headlines of papers like the NYPost to describe the boys as being on the level of wild animals and beasts of prey). And the one or two voices that called for restraint against a rush to judgement were quickly shouted down.
    Watching that documentary, as good and as edifying as it was, brought me back to those searing images of the kids faces in the evening news (and those terrible courtroom sketches). I remember the worry of seeing my brother go out with his friends in the evening, wondering how they would be treated as a group by White people they didn't know. Even at that young age, I was a worrier.
    Perhaps now with new Mayor-elect de Blasio, the young men can truly begin the healing process in earnest. This may also have the added effect of setting NYC on a path toward being a place where justice and a decent life is not just for the wealthy, white and well heeled of the City.

  • Eric Maorin | November 14, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    I was a resident of Queens during this case. The main reason for this bogus prosecution was to head off interracial dating. It was a time when more and more non-black women (spanish and white) were dating black men, as well as understanding their plight. Much to the dismay of white (Italian/Irish) and latin men (most latin men were highly prejudice) had to devise a way to reverse that, and make black men appear to be monsters. An atmosphere of fear had to be created, which was attempted by law enforcement in New York.

    One thing about black men at that time. Our mothers brought us up to respect women. To treat them good. That is what attracted women of all cultures. We did not treat them as slaves or stepchildren, we treated them special. Times have changed since the 80's and 90's, television and media have raised our children since then, and they are now the product of devious minds.

  • $250 million???? | November 14, 2013 11:45 AMReply

    Not that I don't doubt these five young men could have had careers in those 10 years, and perhaps been professionals. But realistically, how many of us can say we would make even $1 million in our life time? Perhaps each of them should get $1 million a piece, tax free?

  • Jay | December 12, 2013 5:57 AM

    The hell kind of logic is this? I'll give you 1 million to serve 10 years in an adult correctional facility at 15 years of age. Sound fair?

  • Maurice Mizrahi | November 15, 2013 10:26 AM

    First the Feds wont get taxes out of a settlement
    Second I dont think its enough The city should be forced close to bankruptcy for every injustice and then the policies of stop and frisk , putting multiple charges etc will end JUSTICE is the word and these men deserve a sinple no worry life after what WE yes WE did to them

  • CareyCarey | November 14, 2013 1:49 PM

    BLOW IT OUT YOUR ASS!

    Excuse my less than kind way of expressing my discontent with your woeful shortsightedness, but I had to fight fire with fire.

    Listen, first, having been locked behind bars, I am here to tell you, you're not looking at the big picture. Many do not return from that place of terror, and those who do return (and are fortunate enough to return with both eyes, all their limbs and no stab wounds) are seldom without mental wounds that no amount of money can ever repair. In the case of the Central Park Five, their fate upon entering prison was intensified because they entered as sex offenders. They can be defined as the "black plaque" of criminals... everyone (including other inmates) would love to stamp them out.

    Now we're talking about 5 INNOCENT men who has endured TWENTY FIVE YEARS of scorn, ridicule, brutally, poverty and pain, for a crime they did not commit... and many knew they did not participant in that heinous crime.

    So lets do the math. The lawyer's fees and expenses will take the biggest bite. Uncle Sam will have his hand out to get his fair share (and he will get his). So now we are left with half of the original total. Let's see... 125 divided by 5 = 25. Okay, 25 divided by 25 years = 1 million a year.

    Now, raise your funky (and stupid) hand if you'd sign-in to a penitentiary (as a sex offender or even a garbage picker) for the promise of 1 million dollars a year.

    If not, check yourself and GTFOOH with that Bullsh*t!

  • minnie720 | November 14, 2013 10:14 AMReply

    America and its " Justice" smh So quick to convict when you're on the wrong side of color!!

  • Marlon | November 15, 2013 12:37 PM

    Color is a HUGE part of this unfortunately. I just wish for once, those people who ask, "why do they have to bring up color", actually had to endure what blatant racism feels like. I will never understand what some things feel like, because it just isn't and won't be my struggle. If you don't understand, then I would kindly request you find someone of color, and just converse with them about how it feels to be judged based on the color of your skin. This and cases like this, have happened to our young men and women for years. So excuse us when we see and feel something you might not quite understand. Again, it is not your struggle, but you defintely don't have to be ignorant to it. If you would like to speak with me, please feel free to contact me, and I would happily inform you. I believe we only understand what we want to understand.

    Thank you,
    Marlon Bankhead

  • Deborah | November 14, 2013 8:20 PM

    Why does color always come into play? There are white people who have been wrongfully imprisoned too. These kids should get every penny of the settlement. I only hope they have the good sense to use it wisely and not blow it in a year.

  • Damon Colquhoun | November 13, 2013 10:48 PMReply

    Word!

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