Saturday, June 1, 2019

Yusef Salaam, Innocence Project: Our side of the story

In this August 11, 1990 file photo, Yusef Salaam enters New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan with his mother Sharonne Salaam on the third day of deliberations in the Central Park jogger trial. (AP Photo/Phillip Schoultz)

Yusef Salaam writes:

Since the day Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, and I were wrongfully arrested for a near-fatal rape of a woman jogging in Central Park, the police and the media rushed to dehumanize us, like so many others, based on our age and race.

We never had a chance to shape our side of the story, but that changes today. Through the eyes of award-winning director Ava DuVernay in the Netflix series When They See Us, we finally see a humanizing portrayal of what happened to us for a new generation to watch and learn from.                      

We were just 14, 15, and 16 years old when police forced us into an interrogation room with the purpose of beating a confession out of us. 

We fought to take back our story for 30 years. Working closely with the Innocence Project and its Speakers Bureau over the years, we've had the chance to use our voices to tell the truth about our case with people across the country. And now through this exceptional opportunity with Ava, our story can be shared with audiences across the globe.

In the series, we see the strength of our families as they fought for us against a system that shut them down. 

We see the innocence that New York denied us, and continues to deny so many young people of color today.


As an Innocence Project board member and as one of the exonerated men they called the Central Park Five, I could not be more proud to invite you to watch When They See Us. The four-part series is now available on Netflix and you can learn more about our case through this special feature story.

 Dr. Yusef Salaam 
Exonerated 2002
Innocence Project Board Member 

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