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The Central Park Five - A Movie Worth Seeing
Review of The Central Park Five - Now Playing At The Roxie in SF
The Central Park Five
Last night saw the Central Park Five at SF’s Roxie Theatre. This documentary directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon is disturbing, angering but worthwhile. Worthwhile because it gives the young men who were falsely accused and convicted a chance to tell their story. It adds further illumination to a sordid history of American miscarriages of justice particularly when juveniles are involved. Those who are the weakest at understanding the system and with minimal resources of all types to defend themselves with are easy targets for politicians, police and prosecutors building careers on public fears. But it is also a story of a general public all to willing to condemn based on the most shallow and incomplete information. Society is a willing participant in the sleazy affair and when it blows up years later the public seems to have a convenient case of amnesia regarding their heated rage of the past.
The people who need to see this movie probably won’t. Those of us who already know might see it. I wonder if the real enemy here is not police, crime or power but the building of careers, the self-interest of those professionals who are really not all that professional in their pursuit of upward mobility. Targeting the young and easy to manipulate, they win and go on to more rewards the system offers. They have the vacations, the pensions, the dinners, the promotions, the raises while they leave others with lifetimes of despair, anger and frustration. The system takes those with the least resources to fight and attacks them with the seemingly unlimited resources of the state.
This movie immediately brought to mind two cases with which I am familiar. One, of my friend Juan Melendez, who spent almost 18 years on Florida’s death row for a crime he did not commit. The other is a Houston case from the late fifties known as the Icebox Murder in which several African American teenagers where set up by police to take the rap for the murder of a young white boy whose body was found in an icebox. In this case, the consequences were just terrible with one young man being executed. This is an interesting and revealing case which can be read at http://www.dallasobserver.com/2004-03-11/news/the-icebox-revisited/
There are a lot of these cases. It is part of the system we live in. As we know, it is very cold and cruel – and it goes on here in the Bay Area as well as New York and Texas. May this documentary inspire all to fight for what is right!
This film is playing at the Roxie in San Francisco through Thursday, January 3rd.