Same Game, New Toy
by Elaine Gilmartin
Once upon a time, in a primitive land that existed before Twitter (X) and Tik Tok and Facebook, the means by which one could share whatever racist, misogynistic, hateful and/or stupid thought with the masses was greatly limited. One such medium was the newspaper.
Yes, yes, I know there are still newspapers of course, but I am working on the presumption they are on the endangered species list.
Anyway, I digress.
And in that limited world there lived in a tower a malignant, self-serving narcissist who could not resist the impulse to presume guilt in the notorious case of the Central Park jogger, a case that culminated in the erroneous incarceration of five youths with no evidence, only coerced confessions that were later recanted.
As many people are aware, this horrific case involved an investment banker, Trisha Meili, who took long nightly runs through Central Park to decompress after an intense day’s work. The evening of April 19, 1989, she was grabbed during her run, dragged off the trail, and endured a rape and beating so brutal she was left in a coma for twelve days, with a fractured skull, her left eye gouged from its socket, severe hypothermia and approximately 80% of her blood lost. She awoke with no memory of the attack, which she details in her memoir, I Am The Central Park Jogger; A Story of Hope and Possibility.
It was during that night in Central Park that scores of teens and young men engaged in behavior that ranged from simple mischief to outright felony assault, as several pedestrians were mugged and struck with objects, one man left bleeding with a head wound, a night that came to be known as “wilding,” taken from rapper Tone-Loc’s lyrics, doing the wild thing.
As the police rounded up a number of these youth, Trisha’s unconscious body was discovered four hours after her attack. So dire was her condition, it was believed she would not survive and so the detectives approached these youths with the zealousness of a potential murder conviction.
Thus began the ordeal of these teens who came to be known as the Central Park Five; Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, and Kevin Richardson, but…