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.