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The Other Central Park Rapes

Long version: mp3, 4.5 MBs, 5:32
Short version: mp3, 2.6 MBs, 3:12

Scholar Activist Angela Davis once wrote “the ideological space for the proliferation of this racialized fear of crime, has been opened by the transformation in international politics created by the fall of the European socialist countries. Communism is no longer the quintessential enemy against which the nation images its identity. This space is now inhabited by ideological constructions of crime, drugs, immigration and welfare. Of course the enemy within is far more dangerous than the enemy without. And a Black enemy within is the most dangerous of all”, she wrote.

There was without doubt a wild and horrific crime committed against a young woman in the green depths of New York City’s Central Park, in the cool nights of 1989. But she was not the only person against whom a crime was committed. Five young boys Yusef Salaam, Kharey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Antron McCay which each and all victimized by a police prosecutorial and judicial system that saw them merely as the racist rampaging media was projecting them. And treated them like aliens in the midst of what philosophers like to boast about the so called “social contract”. They were hustled into court provided with defense counsel that is barely more than a presence, like most poor folks in the nation, and given what was little more than a proverbial bums rush.

In the days following the Central Park rape and in the same period of the trial a prominent New York City financial and real estate tycoon Donald Trump took
out full page ads in city papers lamenting that these “animals could not receive the death penalty.” The boys were duly bum rushed into the gulags of New York, upstate prison hell holes where they were tagged with that worst of all tags “Rapist".

In prison culture there are few epitaphs that are more deadly, the only one scene as worse is perhaps “baby raper”. These youngsters endured almost and for some over a decade, of such horrific conditions. And they faced another hell when they came time for an elusive false freedom, in a city where their names were anathema. As they suffered so thier mothers suffered and as they recently wrote to the head DA “we have suffered for thirteen years but it seems like an eternity, while the so-called justice system refused to hear our laments, or even objectively review our many legal concerns regarding the many improprieties that we perceived to be evident in this case. It has been our hope although not our belief that we would be treated fairly and democratically given the confession of Matias Reyes and the forensic verification validating his admissions”.

The mothers of the Central Park five have endured the unendurable as their boys were swallowed up into the Gulag and emerged with permanent scars upon their very souls. One wonders what would have happened if that young man Mr. Reyes had not
come forward.

In a word “nothing”.

How many other such cases, rushed through a voracious greedy soulless system languish in the joint under processes that are virtually identical to those that occurred in the Central Park five case? Was there really anything different? Did they have better
lawyers? Did they have falsified confessions? Did they have DA’s hungry for book deals? Did they have judges bent on moving the case along, who considered the notion of presumption of innocence a mere legal nicety?

The Central Park five are striking if in anything in their ordinariness they are everybody’s son in every city anytime. Their fate is not unique. For the average jury the next time your DA announces a confession treat it with the scorn it deserves. Any adult knows that 14, 15, or 16-year-olds can be bent to the will of older more mature men. How much more so when the bullying methods of cops are used. Cops who if wary of inflicting physical punishments upon the very young, are more than equipped to apply the psychological ones. As adults, as armed adults, as grown men it would please pardon the expression, be child’s play, especially to a Black or Latino young who regards them sometimes rightfully as vicious brutes who will do them some serious harm unless they say what they want them to say.

And so the Central Park jogger rape case folds, and it now seems that those boys
got raped, by judges, by defense lawyers, by prosecutors, by juries, and by the white nationalist media to quote black novelist Ishmael Reed. The very media that sensationalized and demonized the boys’ 13 years ago, and sold ad space to call for their deaths, now makes new millions off of their exoneration. How delicious. How many more?

Despite the bourgeoisie hand wringing in the daily press that asks what went wrong? The question really should be what is the difference between this case and hundreds if not thousands of others? What is the diff? And the answer is not much. It happens everyday in Babylon; it is the repressive norm. It is business as usual.

From death row this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

These commentaries are produced by Noelle Hanrahan for Prison Radio.


Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.