I felt ashamed, actually, for New York. And I also felt extremely angry because their innocence never got the attention that their guilt did. The furor around prosecuting them still drowns out the good news of their innocence.
These were five kids who we tormented, we falsely accused, we pilloried in the press, we attacked. We invented phrases for the imagined crimes that we’re accusing them of.
And then we put them in jail. We falsely convicted them. And when the evidence turned out that they were innocent and they were released, we gave a modest nod to fairness, and we walked away from our crime…
I want us to remember what happened that day and be horrified by ourselves because it really is a mirror on our society. And rather than tying it up in a bow and thinking that there was something that we can take away from it and we’ll be better people, I think what we really need to realize is that we’re not very good people. And we’re often not.
–Craig Steven Wilder
Quoted in Ken Burns: The Central Park Five
H/T: James Fillmore for introducing me to the film.