Entertainment

Ava DuVernay’s ‘When They See Us’ Explores The True Story Of The Injustices Against Black And Brown Boys

People love True Crime. They get their fix from documentaries, feature films, novels, TV shows, and podcasts. On May 31, True Crime fanatics will be in for a treat. A new Netflix series directed by the incomparable Ava DuVernay. “When They See Us” isn’t just a series and it’s not just a “who done it” kind of plot. The film is the real story about how the justice system robbed the lives of innocent men of color to solve a rape case. It’s a story about discrimination, a racist judicial system, and how the victims of it mirror what continues to happen in criminal justice.

“When They See Us” shows how the lives of Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Kharey Wise were torn apart after they were found guilty of raping a woman in 1989.

The story begins with a tragedy. A 28-year-old female investment banker was jogging in Central Park in Manhattan around 9 p.m. Trisha Meili, the victim who disclosed her identity in 2003, was brutally raped and left for dead. Around 1 a.m. she was found naked in the park. Medics took Meili to the hospital where she suffered from severe hypothermia, severe brain damage, hemorrhagic shock, and lost 80 percent of her blood. She also had internal bleeding and suffered skull fractures — 21 fractures in total. She remained in a coma for 12 days. When she came to, she could not remember anything about her attack.

The young men, who were all under 16 years of age, were in the park that night with another group and were taken into police custody for unruly gathering.

When police found out that the body of the woman had been discovered in the park that same night, that she had been raped and was in the hospital, detectives immediately suspected the young men as the assailants.

Without having any evidence, detectives — at least two of them were Latino — accused the five boys of the crime and lied to them by saying they had proof that they did it.

Police told the five boys that if they admitted to doing the crime, they would be released and allowed to go home.

Throughout the evening, the family of the boys was lied to about the events that were going on in the integration room. Everyone honestly thought that police were going to release them because that’s what they said they were going to do.

The only thing the boys had to do was confess to the crime. However, because the boys didn’t know what they were confessing to, or the details of the victims, the police fed them the information in order to record the confession from them in their own voice.

“When They See Us” not only explores the injustices by the New York Police department but the racist assumptions by the public and the media.

If you’re not familiar with the entire story, we won’t give any spoilers but know that this story isn’t as black and white as you may think. It’s a complex topic that goes way beyond these five boys and shows in detail how men of color are presumed guilty simply because of their social status and economic background.

The mini series premieres May 31 on Netflix. Here’s a trailer.

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Daisy Coleman, The High School Sexual Assault Survivor Featured In A Netflix Documentary, Has Died By Suicide

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Daisy Coleman, The High School Sexual Assault Survivor Featured In A Netflix Documentary, Has Died By Suicide

Netflix

In 2016, Netflix debuted the heartwrenching documentary Audrie & Daisy a film that examined the tragic experiences of two high school students. Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman were two teens at the time of their sexual assaults. Both women were subjected to cyberbullying and abuse after their assaults and forced to heal with little support. But soon after her assault, Audrie Pott was driven to suicide by hanging.

The film showed that Coleman also struggled with suicide ideation after the assault.

Four years after the film’s debut, Coleman (who had become a sexual assault victim advocate) has died by suicide.

In a post to her Facebook page on Tuesday, Coleman’s mother shared the news: “My daughter Catherine Daisy Coleman committed suicide tonight,” Melinda Coleman wrote. “If you saw crazy messages and posts it was because I called the police to check on her. She was my best friend and amazing daughter. I think she had to make it seem like I could live without her. I can’t. I wish I could have taken the pain from her! She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.”

At the time of her assault, Coleman was 14 years old. She was sexually assaulted by a high schooler named Matthew Barnett and was dumped outside of her home wearing only a T-shirt in the dead of winter. The documentary film said Coleman had been left behind in sub-freezing temperatures and that her hair had stuck to the ground.

Barnett was eventually subjected to a felony sexual assault charge for what he did to Coleman but the charge was later dropped.

After, Coleman became a target for bullying.

Filmmakers followed Coleman for two years watching the ways in which Coleman and members of her family were subjected to the trauma of her assault.

“I definitely feel like people have certain views and perceptions about me and about cases like this because they’re uneducated,” then-19-year-old Coleman told People in a 2017 interview. “That’s exactly why I’m going out and trying to educate people on what’s going on in our society.”

Speaking about her experience, Coleman said that she didn’t hold any animosity against her attacker. “I honestly don’t have any vindictive feelings toward him,” Coleman told People. “I feel like all of that negativity that he put onto me was passed down to him at one point, so I felt the need to stop that kind of transaction of negativity and hate… I went through a lot of years of self-loathing and asking myself, Why me? So much ‘woe is me’… I just decided one day that I was done being negative about it. I needed to forgive myself for what happened.”

In 2017, Coleman worked to help others from being subjected to sexual violence for the national campaign SafeBAE — Safe Before Anyone Else.

If you or someone you know might be considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

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Two Black Moms Took Their Kids To Play In A Fountain On The Mall Then Secret Service Officers Swarmed Them With Guns

Things That Matter

Two Black Moms Took Their Kids To Play In A Fountain On The Mall Then Secret Service Officers Swarmed Them With Guns

Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Two Black mothers headed to our nation’s capital last week to give their children some playtime in the fountains at the World War II Memorial. The day was hot and the mothers thought the memorial would be a perfect place to let their children cool down and have some fun.

Unfortunately, the day quickly turned sinister when the women and their children were swarmed by Secret Service agents who pointed a rifle at them.

Last Thursday, India Johnson, 26, and Yasmeen Winston, 25, were driving their infants to take a splash in the fountains at the memorial when a Secret Service cruiser drove into their front left bumper.

The two women have reportedly been best friends since seventh grade and are mothers to boys: 13-month-old Sir Quincy (Johnson) and six-month-old G’esus (Winston). Both Sir Quincy and G’esus were sitting in the back seat of the car that they were driving. According to the women, Mother Goose Club was playing on the radio. Then, within seconds of the Secret Service cruiser driving into their car, an officer pointed a rifle at them and yelled “Get out!” and “Put your hands in the air!”

Soon enough, more officers surrounded them with guns. Eventually, Winston and Johnson were handcuffed and separated from their children. According to both women, they were detained without being given a reason as to why and were spoken to by police officers who did not wear masks, despite the current coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Washington Post, “Initially, the women said, an officer told them the vehicle had been reported stolen and that the suspects were two Black men. But the women, both African American, said no men were with them and provided proof that Johnson was the owner. She told the Secret Service she had never reported the car stolen. Eventually, the women were released — without an apology or answers to their questions.”

Winston and Johnson are now demanding that the Secret Service investigate the incident and release the details to the public.

“This incident took place near our national monuments across from the White House,” Timothy Maloney, the women’s attorney, wrote in a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray over the weekend. “It occurred after eight weeks of unprecedented national demonstrations about excessive police conduct, some of which took place right there on Constitution Avenue. Has the Secret Service learned nothing this summer?”

Speaking about the incident Winston told the Washington Post “I could have been another Breonna Taylor. I could have been another innocent woman who has no record and got shot.”

In a statement to the Post, a Secret Service spokesperson said that they had received a “query requesting the agency investigate an alleged interaction between Uniformed Division Officers and two members of the public” and that they are looking into the incident.

Winston says she and Johnson have spent the days after the incident completely traumatized.

Winston told the Post that she is currently seeking therapy and their friend is avoiding going outside of her home. “We don’t get in trouble. Nothing like this has ever happened to us. I thought the police were here to serve and protect us, and now it’s really uncomfortable,” she explained.

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