Reparations paid to Central Park Five

Amadi Ajamu | 7/3/2014, 3:01 p.m.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio finally made good on his campaign promise concerning the “Central Park Five.”
Kevin Ricardson speaks at City hall rally Photo by Nayaba Arinde

Some of the journalists shifted uncomfortably as she slammed the role much of the mainstream press played in setting such a vitriolic atmosphere, which had the five boys condemned before any investigation even took place.

“It’s unbelievable the injustice that we suffered throughout all these years and that we continue to suffer until today,” boomed Santana. “The Donald Trumps, the Ann Coulters, the bloggers who still say that we’re guilty ... they just can’t let it go. We’re innocent. What more do you need? What more do we have to prove?”

Reminiscing bitterly that he was just 14 years old when he was arrested, Santana stated, “My childhood was taken from me, the ability to become a productive man in society was taken. Instead, you gave me prison life, and this is what I come back with—the aggression.”

He added that he is in the struggle to fight similar injustices and is working with groups like the Innocence Project. He said, “I wake up this morning still wanting to put the gloves on and still wanting to fight.”

He challenged the journalists and everyone else present to call for an opening of all the documents pertaining to the case to expose the blatant judicial and prosecutorial misconduct.

Trump was hammered by various speakers, who slayed him for the full-page ads he put in the New York press in 1989 calling for the death penalty.

“He wants to kill innocent youth through the death penalty,” said Santana’s sister Joanne. She mentioned the devastating effect the case has had on her brother and their entire family, noting that despite the current resolution, there were still those like Trump who continued to accuse and attack her brother. “[Trump is] still angry and spewing against us,” she declared. “There is a lot of anger and hate.”

“I wonder what Donald Trump would have done had that been his white child,” challenged Sharonne Salaam.

While celebrating the fact that the city is finally paying the five men—even though no liability is attached to the settlement—Central Park Five attorney Michael Tarif Warren told the Amsterdam News, “The move now should be about disbarment of the prosecutors in the case: Fairstein and Lederer. As it is now the settlement, [that] means that none of the parties being sued are being held liable. Sure, this is the largest settlement that the city has ever agreed to pay for a wrongful conviction case, and even though the language of the settlement agreement doesn’t specifically indicate that anyone is liable, the size of the settlement is indicative of the fact that the city is acknowledging that a great injustice occurred.”

Warren, who worked on the case for over a decade, is adamant that community pressure can lead to a righteous action against the prosecutors in this case. “The people should demand the disbarment of Lederer and Fairstein, because they both most definitely still have their license, and real justice determines that they should not.”

The AmNews reached out to Alice McGullion, the public relations representative for Fairstein and Lederer, but did not get a response by press time.