Ken (The Civil War) Burns’ 2012 documentary The Central Park Five, nominally about the Central Park Jogger Case, has become this generation’s To Kill a Mockingbird—now regularly assigned by Leftist educators to brainwash impressionable school kids and induce white guilt. As is typical for Burns, a story about black and Hispanic crime is transformed into a morality play set in the notorious bastion of white racism that is New York City.
Needless to say, the actual facts of the case tell a more complicated (and damning) story. But unfortunately, Burns’ agitprop may facilitate yet another $250 million-plus racial extortion payment in the form of a predatory civil suit against the city—and, ultimately, cripple law enforcement.
The Central Park Jogger case originated when some 40 black and Hispanic teenagers rampaged through Central Park on April 19, 1989. They menaced, attempted to assault, beat, and robbed people in their path. They also beat, sexually molested and apparently raped, at least one parkgoer, for a total of at least 10 victims. The latter victim was long known as “the Central Park Jogger.” (Trisha Meili went public in 2003.)
At the time, 37 of the approximately 40 black and Hispanic teenagers who had been running wild in the park were interrogated by NYPD detectives. Twelve were arrested, and ten attackers were charged and convicted in adult court of various crimes (This means of course, that the New York authorities let some 70 percent of the attackers off scot-free.) Victims and other witnesses were also interviewed.
Five individuals were ultimately charged for the rape in Central Park. They were dubbed “The Central Park Five” by their supporters. They were also charged for other brutal attacks that night.
The five: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey/Kharey Wise. All but Salaam confessed to their crimes, although Salaam made self-incriminating statements.
Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam were convicted of riot, the robbery and assault of [white jogger] John Loughlin and the assault upon [white jogger] David Lewis. Kharey Wise was convicted of riot.
(Armstrong Report, 38)
(Reports differ on Clarence Thomas, 14, and Lamont McCall, 13, who were arrested in the park that night, some saying no charges were filed, and The Central Park Five: Chronicle of a City Wilding—by Sarah Burns, daughter of Ken Burns—saying they were prosecuted and convicted in Family Court.)
According to the Burns movie, white New Yorkers were waging an unrelenting, savage, race war on black New Yorkers during the late 1980s.
But I was there. The reality: constant black-on-white, racially-motivated violence. Even back in the 1980s, though, the Main Stream Media routinely inverted reality by suppressing black-on-white hate crimes and hyping the rare white-on-black crime.
This type of activism-driven “journalism” is a proud tradition that Burns has continued with The Central Park Five. According to the New York Post, , Burns has openly said that he made the movie for the sole reason of scoring $250 million (plus attorney’s fees) for the admitted attackers—to “amplify pressure on the city to settle,” and “first and foremost . . . [to bring about] the settlement of the civil suit.”
In 2009, Burns made mischief directly, writing Mayor Michael Bloomberg,
“We hope that your influence with the Corporation Counsel could speed along the process of the lawsuit towards settlement and closure.”
[Burns journo spurno by Bruce Golding, New York Post, December 7, 2012.]
Central Park Five co-directors/writers/producers Ken and Sarah Burns, and the latter’s husband, David McMahon, have simply airbrushed every fact that incriminates the defendants out of the movie. Instead, they have created a fairy tale of a single attacker and a massive, racist conspiracy of police and prosecutors to railroad angelic black and Hispanic “children.”
In the movie, the five defendants also blame their parents and lawyers for their convictions, but have not sued any of them. In fact, they blame everyone but themselves.
A close examination of the film shows that it is nothing but a multicultural marketing scam. The film opens silently, with the text:
On the night of April 19, 1989, a jogger was brutally beaten and raped in NEW YORK CITY’S CENTRAL PARK.
Five teenagers, ANTRON MCCRAY, KEVIN RICHARDSON, YUSEF SALAAM, RAYMOND SANTANA and KOREY WISE were convicted of the crime.
As the saying goes, a half-truth is a whole lie. The five teenagers’ convictions for other crimes that night are only mentioned at the end of the film.
The film also notes ominously:
NEW YORK CITY prosecutors and police who were involved in the case chose not to comment at all.
But these prosecutors and police are all named as defendants in the five admitted attackers’ pending $250+ million civil suit against the city. Their lawyers have certainly ordered them not to speak for the film, knowing that the Burns Gang would edit their clients’ statements so as to cast them in the worst possible light.
(In fact, one former police department counsel did comment at length—but that was cut out of the Burns movie.)
We then hear from Matias Reyes, the murderer, mother-rapist, and serial rapist who, in late 2001, after the statute of limitations had passed, claimed that he had acted alone in raping and beating Meili. Reyes says, among other things,
There is no way that these kids saw this woman come in, or have a idea where she was coming from….
I’m the one that did this.
The authorities had said early on that as many as 14 perpetrators attacked Meili. However, during the two 1990 trials of the “CP5,” prosecutors had informed the juries that the semen found at the scene was not from any of the defendants. In 1989, DNA testing was still primitive, and rapists do not always ejaculate. In 2002, DNA testing determined that the semen was from Reyes.
But an individual can be guilty of a crime, yet still give a false confession. Dr. Robert Kurtz, leader of the team of doctors that saved Meili’s life, argued in 2002 that it was impossible for one attacker to have caused such massive wounds to Meili’s body, from head to toe. [Jogger's Doc: More than One Attacker by Robert Ingrassia, New York Daily News, December 4, 2002.]
As former NYPD counsel Michael F. Armstrong, primary author of the NYPD internal investigation of the case known as the “Armstrong Report,” pointed out to me during a recent, 90-minute interview, Reyes’ own former attorney and psychiatrist have both argued that the delusional psychotic Reyes could not distinguish “between fact and fancy.”
Reyes was never polygraphed, his claims were never tested in court, and then-DA Robert Morgenthau’s deputies interrupted the NYPD’s attempt to interview Reyes, going so far as to contact the lawyers of inmates who knew Reyes, to order them to refuse to cooperate with the NYPD. (I call that a conspiracy to obstruct justice; Armstrong responded wryly, “Nah, nah, nah, it’s called ‘competition.’”)
One such inmate is supposed to have said that Reyes had told him that he had come upon Meili, when he heard her screaming from the beating the “Central Park Five” were giving her, and to which they admitted at the time. [He’s an Ice Man Who Confessed by Michael Daly, New York Daily News, October 20, 2002.]
[Law enforcement] sources said that not only is Reyes’ confession incomplete, but virtually his entire story repeats details already made public in press accounts and during two trials of the teenagers.
[Say Rapist Tale Full of Problems by Barbara Ross and Alice McQuillan, New York Daily News, September 27, 2002.]
But not only does the Burns movie ignore Dr. Kurtz’s statement, it suppresses all of the questions about Reyes’ credibility that I have outlined above —and for that matter anything else that would cast doubt that Matias Reyes alone raped and beat Trisha Meili.
This deception is necessary—because the fairy tale of “one offender” swiftly collapses once the facts are examined.
A key source is the Armstrong Report. This appeared in January 2003, one month after Justice Charles Tejada had, on the recommendation of Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau [Ryan Affidavit, 2002], and in violation of legal precedent [pdf], vacated the defendants’ convictions for the attack on the Jogger—and for the other crimes committed that night, although there was absolutely no suggestion Reyes had been involved in them.
As Armstrong told me in an interview, there were two crime scenes at which Meili had been violated (actually three, including the road, where Salaam first hit her), one with a modest amount of blood, and another one with a great deal of blood. But neither Reyes’ confession nor the Burns movie says anything about there being two crime scenes. Armstrong argues that the likeliest scenario is one in which five or more attackers beat and sexually molested the Jogger, Reyes heard her moaning or screaming, and after the first wave of attackers left, dragged her to the second crime scene, where he raped and beat her, causing the “carnage” (Armstrong).
(Imagine what that says about Central Park in 1989. A white woman gets beaten to a pulp and sexually molested by one racist black and Hispanic mob, and as soon as it departs, another racist Hispanic thug rapes and almost kills her.)
As Yusef Salaam admitted at the time and his confessed accomplices independently corroborated, Salaam (not Reyes) knocked down Meili with what has variously been described as a “pipe” or “metal bar” that he’d gotten from confessed accomplice Kharey/Korey Wise, hitting her at least once in the head, and once or twice in the ribs. (Wise and Salaam shared the bar/pipe with Jermain Robinson—who, like them, was convicted in a separate brutal attack that night on white jogger John Loughlin.)
Reyes’ m.o. was to attack youngish women inside of buildings, and then seek to blind them by stabbing them in the eyes, so as to make it impossible for them to identify him.
However, the Central Park attack was outside, and Reyes did not try to blind Meili in both eyes. Reyes raped Meili because he stumbled onto the crime in progress. Since the rape did not resemble his usual handiwork, police did not think to connect it to his other rapes.
Why would Reyes confess to everything? According to law enforcement sources, someone had carried a threat to him in prison in 2001 that he had better take sole responsibility for the attack on the Jogger, or suffer violence. [Inmate says Reyes raped her after teens attacked by Barbara Ross and Alice McQuillan, Daily News, December 5, 2002.] Since by then the statute of limitations had passed, Reyes couldn’t be prosecuted for the Central Park crimes, and getting other minority felons off for their crimes would make him a cell block hero.
Needless to say, none of this appears in the Burns movie.
New York Times alleged reporter Jim Dwyer appears on camera in the Burns movie, asserting
I look back on the jogger case, and wish I had been more skeptical as a journalist. You know, a lot of people didn’t do their jobs—reporters, police, prosecutors, defense lawyers. This was a proxy war [unclear] fought, and these young men were the proxies for all kind of other agendas. The truth, and reality, justice, were not a part of it.
Just the opposite is true. Compared to now, New York reporters did a decent job. Prosecutors, particularly ADA Elizabeth Lederer, did a heroic job.
And it may have been the NYPD’s finest hour. Significantly, even in 2003, after having the admitted attackers’ convictions vacated, Morgenthau’s office denied that there had been any misconduct in the detaining and interrogating of the five defendants (which is now the basis of their lawsuit).
Later in the Burns movie, the NYT’s Dwyer claims that a narrow path cut into the grass proved that Reyes acted alone. Dwyer assumes that if multiple assailants had dragged the Jogger, the path would have been much wider.
Michael F. Armstrong responded to me: “How the hell can you possibly say, 14 years later, how wide the rut in the grass was, and whether the grass was pushed down, or whatever? I mean, that is ridiculous.”
In any event, Dwyer’s claim is irrelevant, because he presupposes that the path in the grass was caused by Meili’s assailants, when it would have been caused by her petite body, which weighed between 105 and 120 pounds, being dragged, not by her attackers’ footsteps!
The Burns movie makes the Jogger defendants seem like a bunch of altar boys. And like many heinous criminals, who have no consciences to inhibit them from telling outrageous lies, they are talented actors. They are playing for $250+ million.
They talk about other attacks, on John Loughlin and David Lewis—the attack on the Loughlin was almost as brutal as the attack on the Jogger—that they and their accomplices committed in the park that night, and for which they were duly convicted—but claim to have only witnessed them committed by others.
We keep hearing “they.”
Angelic Raymond Santana claims to have never harmed or attempted to harm anyone that night.
But Santana incriminated himself and confessed to other attacks more than any of the other four. He was picked up by police on the edge of the park that night. Before police knew about the Jogger, Officer Robert Powers told Santana and his friends that they should have been with their girlfriends, instead of beating people in the park. Santana responded, “I already got mines,” whereupon he and suspect Steven Lopez laughed heartily.
(Lopez was charged in the Jogger attack, but in exchange for prosecutors dropping those charges, took a plea deal for a different crime that night.)
Not only did Santana confess to attacking the Jogger in 1989, but in 1994 he confessed to a parole board that he and his friends had gone to the park to rob and attack people—and after he had finished serving his prison sentences, he repeated that confession to police in 2002. [Armstrong Report, 4, 6]
But in the Burns movie, he insists that he was only going to the park to “hang out.”
Similarly, in the Burns movie, Kevin Richardson asserts that his cheek had been scratched by police. But at the time he’d confessed that the Jogger had scratched him. This is not mentioned in the Burns movie.
The Burns movie tries to depict the Five as having been terrified in custody. But this is belied by the way they acted at the time. They flirted with female corrections officers, acted in a “raucous” manner, as Justice Thomas Galligan noted in his decision in the Huntley Hearing discussed below, and loudly sang Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing.” This is not mentioned in the Burns movie.
Much of the Burns movie consists of a dramatic account of four of the five defendants claiming that their confessions (Salaam admitted to attacking the Jogger, but refused to sign a confession) were coerced. However, the Burns movie does not mention that all these claims were addressed long ago, during the “Huntley Hearing” (a New York State procedure for determining the admissibility of confessions)held by Justice Thomas Galligan that lasted over seven weeks in 1989.
In a 116-page decision that Galligan handed down on February 23, 1990, he ruled that the police had followed proper protocol, and thus the four confessions had not been coerced and hence were admissible, as were Salaam’s incriminating admissions to police.
The only thing Galligan ruled inadmissible: Santana’s statement: “I already got mines”—because Officer Powers had not yet Mirandized him. However, we are not officers of the court, and thus we can and must use that against him.
Michael F. Armstrong noted that, at the time, the defendants made none of the claims of being brutalized by police, or of being fed answers that they now assert in the Burns movie.
A Leftist academic, social psychology professor Saul Kassin, [Email him] of CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has argued that because the four defendants’ confessions did not mention Reyes’ participation, they were “not factual.” But if Reyes came later, this is irrelevant.
In addition to the five defendants’ admissions and confessions to police and prosecutors, they were fingered by eyewitnesses who saw them attack Trisha Meili, they made incriminating statements to friends and friends’ relatives both before and after being arrested, and
blood stains were found on defendant Santana’s right sneaker and on defendant Salaam’s jacket; semen was present on the underwear of defendants McCray and Richardson and on the sweatshirt of defendant Santana. Also, the clothing the defendant Antron McCray wore on the night of the occurrence was caked with mud and dirt.
[My Opinion—A Critique: The Injustice of a Rush to Judgment—The Central Park Jogger Case [pdf] by Robert K. Tanenbaum, 3f.]
None of this is mentioned in the Burns movie.
Armstrong told me that Sarah Burns called him up: “She just said she’s thinking of doing a documentary.” He had lunch with her for “about two, three hours.”
And I explained all the kind of things that we thought, and our police report, … and she took a very kind of [journalistic?] objective—I thought—view.
Then, later on, I was asked if I would be interviewed on camera. I said, “Sure.” And I went down and I was interviewed on camera for a whole half a day at the studio.
And there, a few months later, I get a call from Ken Burns, who said, “Well, we’re not going to go into the matters of which you were questioned, so we’re not going to use the footage of your interview,” and “Thank you very much for coming down.”
Well, I said, “O.k., fine.” There I went to the movie, and after spending the entire time talking about precisely what I had talked about, they then flashed my name at the end, and there it is, with a background statement made by Jim Dwyer, saying that the police retained a prominent attorney to look into matters for them, and the police found that the police did nothing wrong, despite the fact that they got the wrong guy.
That was in 20 seconds that it was like watching a movie about the Holocaust, and have some guy come on at the end in a Nazi uniform, and say it didn’t happen.
The Burns Gang had no intention of permitting any doubt to enter the viewer’s mind.
The NYPD unsuccessfully sought to subpoena the Burns Gang for the outtakes from their movie, believing they would undermine the defendants’ lawsuit. [Central Park Five Documentary Subpoena Rejected by Lily Rothman, Time, February 20, 2013.]
Armstrong argued to me of the defendants convicted of the rape as well as the other horrific beatings:
Under my theory, these kids did too much time. Because if they didn’t commit the horrendous rape on her that [Reyes] did… their sentence would have been two or three years [instead of six to 16].
Now, is that compensable, under the law? Does everyone who, there’s a mistake made, and they did too much time, get money for it? No, that isn’t what the system is. The system is, you’ve got to show that somebody did something wrong. That’s where there simply is no proof at all, in my judgment.
But that’s not the Burns Gang’s goal here. Beyond the immediate object of costing the city’s white and Asian net taxpayers $250-plus million, they seek to forever discredit good police and prosecutorial work.
Instead of arresting and successfully prosecuting black and Hispanic felons, police will learn that enforcing the law simply leads to dangerous lawsuits, potentially bankrupting the city. To keep the lawyers off their backs, the authorities will instead give thugs carte blanche.
At least To Kill A Mocking Bird admits it’s a work of fiction.
[Email Ken Burns]
Nicholas Stix [email him] is a New York City-based journalist and researcher, much of whose work focuses on the nexus of race, crime, and education. He spent much of the 1990s teaching college in New York and New Jersey. His work has appeared in Chronicles, The New York Post, Weekly Standard, Daily News, New York Newsday, American Renaissance, Academic Questions, Ideas on Liberty and many other publications. Stix was the project director and principal author of the NPI report, The State of White America-2007. He blogs at Nicholas Stix, Uncensored.