Things That Matter

While The World Watches ‘When They See Us,’ A Latina Victim Of A Linked Crime The Same Night Is Forgotten

The premiere of Netflix’s new limited series, “When They See Us,” has sparked outrage over the injustices surrounding a heinous crime and spectacularly mishandled case fraught with racism. The series — directed by Ava Duvernay — tells the story of five young Black and brown men who were framed for a horrendous crime. Due to the incompetence and bigotry of the NYPD and New York District Attorney’s Office, the Central Park 5 lost their freedom and their childhoods.

In 1989, the group of kids was picked up by the NYPD as persons of interest in an assault and rape in Central Park. For 24 hours, the boys were interrogated without the presence of parents or lawyers. The detectives conducting the interviews used harsh and unethical questioning and tactics to coerce confessions from the group. Behind closed doors, they were beaten and denied food, water, and sleep. Non-surprisingly, by the end of their interrogations, the boys were willing to say anything to go home.

That is how the Central Park 5 found themselves falsely accused of the grisly attack on jogger, Trisha Meili.

Twitter / @3ChicsPolitico

The Central Park 5 were granted two separate trials for the rape and assault of Mieli but their fates were the same. Their trials showed that the defense had several conflicting timelines. Also, the boys were unable to recall details of the attack. Their taped confessions appeared forced and the physical evidence tied to the case didn’t match any of the defendants.

Still — even with this incredible lack of evidence — the five boys were found guilty. Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise would go on to each serve between 6-12 years in prison.

Throughout their years in prison, the five faced degrading treatment and targeted harassment for their perceived crime. Despite the convictions, their communities continued to fight for their freedom. The boys’ families were also tormented and singled out because of the criminal attention.

Despite all this, the Central Park 5 maintained that they were guilt-free during the entire ordeal. They were eventually completely exonerated. However, when their names were finally cleared, it wasn’t a police breakthrough that confirmed their innocence.

They were freed because the person who attacked Meili in Central Park was already in prison.

Twitter / @trendsNewday

Matias Reyes was 17 when he attacked Meili in Central Park. Though she has become his best-known victim, she is only one in a string of attacks that started in 1988. One of these attacks was just two days before the Central Park assault. After the Apri 1989 rape of Meili, Reyes attacked five other women in the Upper East Side.

Reyes attacked nine women in total and all but one was raped. Additionally, all of his victims were beaten or sliced with a knife during the attacks. Some of the women were even stabbed in the eyes. This was Reyes’ attempt to keep his victims from recognizing him later.

The series of violent offenses had been noticed by the local news. However, the media was quick to move on to the next big crime. During this time, New York was a hotbed of criminal activity. Rape especially was rampant that year. Reyes’ attacks were simply seen as more of the same criminal activity that the city had come to expect.

While all of these attacks are atrocious — made even worse by the lack of attention they’ve received — one actually resulted in two murders.

Twitter / @sarahw

Lourdes Gonzalez was a mother of three living in the Upper West Side with her boyfriend, Antonio Serrano. The two had plans to leave New York with their blended family to find some place that offered more green spaces than Central Park. Their youngest, Amanda, was only three-months-old but Gonzalez had discovered that she was pregnant yet again.

On the night of June 13, 1989, she shared the good news and the family celebrated. The next day, their lives would forever be changed by Reyes’ brutality.

That day, Gonzalez was alone in their apartment with her three kids, Amanda and the couple’s six-year-old sons, Tony and Carlitos. Serrano — the superintendent of their building — was out for the day. While Gonzalez was in the kitchen with Baby Amanda, someone knocked on the front door.

At Gonzalez’s request, Tony went to check who was there. It was a young Latino man who immediately asked if the building super was at home. When Tony responded in the negative, the man — now revealed to be Matias Reyes — pushed pass the little boy and entered the basement apartment. It’s then that Gonzalez saw the intruder.

Aware of what was going to happen, Gonzalez passed her baby to her boys and told them to go the bedroom and lock the door behind them.

The Cut

Though they were just in the next room, the children were spared the torment of hearing their mother’s attack. However, they did hear the threat Reyes leveled at Gonzalez before assaulting her.

“I’ll take your eyes or your kids,” Tony — now an adult — recalls the words his mother’s attacker said that day.

Once alone, Reyes overpowered Gonzalez. He used one of her own kitchen knives to stab the young mother nine times in her chest and abdomen. Like other victims, she was also sliced on her face. Sometime during the brutal assault, he raped her.

It only took minutes, but once it was over, both Gonzalez and the room were covered in blood. That’s how her children found her when they left their hiding spot. Despite all the blood, Gonzalez was already on the phone, frantically calling 911. The boys carefully hid their baby sister in the bedroom closet and then ran to the neighbors for help.

Gonzalez was found outside her apartment, collapsed on her way to the elevator. She deliriously repeated to her rescuers to get her baby from the room. The mother would only live another few hours before she would succumb to her wounds.

Gonzalez and her unborn child were the only ones to lose their lives during Reyes’ ruthless rampage.

Twitter / @DLWilliams3

After attacking the ninth woman, Reyes was finally captured in August of 1989. At first, he didn’t mention the assault on Gonzalez but did after further interrogation. The crimes he was convicted of didn’t include every offense during his reign of terror but it did land him in prison for life.

Reyes wouldn’t go on to admit to the Central Park assault until 2001. He confessed of his own free will because he claimed it was the, “right thing to do.” Reyes was not tried for Gonzalez’s attack and received no extra sentence for the deaths he caused.

Knowing what we know now, we can’t help but think about the detectives who investigated the Central Park assault. If they had connected that case to Reyes’ previous ones, the Central Park 5 would not have been suspects. If they focused on the correct narrative, Gonzalez and her unborn child wouldn’t have lost their lives. Had they conducted a non-bias investigation, even after the Gonzalez case, they could have stopped other attacks.

These detectives could have spared the Central Park 5 years of imprisonment.

Twitter / @MrsGoodwoman17

The racist push of the New York District Attorney’s Office to incriminate the five brown and Black boys should never be forgotten. Not only did their activities take childhoods away from the five boys, their inactivity terrorized eight other women. Due to their short sidedness, Tony, Carlitos and Amanda grew up without their mother. Lourdes and her baby are gone because of their disgraceful misdirection.

The account of Gonzale and the other women victimized by Reyes shouldn’t replace the story of Trisha Meili or the Central Park 5. Instead, they should be remembered side-by-side. They should stand as an example of a racist institution that operates with way too much unchecked power and the disservice it does to marginalized communities.

There isn’t anything we can do to erase the pain felt by the Central Park 5, Gonzalez, Meili or any of the victims. However, we can make sure this sort of bigotry and ineptitude never goes unchecked again.

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Trump Supporters Who Stormed The U.S. Capitol Are Learning That Their Actions Have Consequences

Things That Matter

Trump Supporters Who Stormed The U.S. Capitol Are Learning That Their Actions Have Consequences

Robert Nickelsberg / Getty

Yes, it’s true: 2020 set the bar low but 2021 has proven quickly that it will also have no chill.

Last week marked the first week back to WFH offices in the new year for quite a few people. And though so many of us expected that the break would bring a relaxed mood for even just a little bit, Republicans ruined the tone and extremists came out guns blazing. Literally. Last week, Trump supporters infiltrated the U.S. state Capitol in a coup and now many of them are paying the price.

For his part in the insurrection, Donald Trump no longer has access to social media, and those who stormed the capitol well… they’re facing arrests.

Capitol rioters are learning that their actions have consequences.

https://giphy.com/embed/26n6Gx9moCgs1pUuk

According to reports, twenty federal criminal defendants related to the deadly pro-Trump riot at the US Capitol “have been rounded up across the country since the insurrection, with the allegations showing the danger of the mob.”

One of the federal defendants, Jacob Chansley, who stormed the Capitol building while wearing a bearskin headdress, face paint, and horns was arrested last week. According to court documents, he told the FBI he came to Washington “as a part of a group effort, with other ‘patriots’ from Arizona, at the request of the President that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C. on January 6, 2021.”

It’s important to note here while the Capitol riot resulted in the arrests of several people, “the charges filed so far have dealt with issues such as trespassing, disorderly contact, and weapon possession, not terrorism” according to Snopes. “While officials have opened domestic terrorism investigations, the FBI has not made any announcements designating everyone in attendance at the rally as a terrorist.”

This means that despite current trending Twitter hashtags, many of those who took part in the coup are not being kicked off of lights as they attempt to fly back home. As Snopes notes the people in these videos have not been added to no-fly lists.

On Sunday, Jan. 10 a video claimed to show a person discovering that they had been placed on the no-fly list for participating in a pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol went viral. In the video, the man could be heard saying: “This is what they do to us. They kicked me off the plane. They called me a f*cking terrorist, and they f*ckin’ want to ruin my life!”

The video does show a person being kicked off of a flight, but it doesn’t seem that they were added to a “no-fly list” which is managed by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center and prohibits terrorists from boarding commercial aircraft. Instead, it seems the footage shows anti-maskers being escorted off of planes for refusing to wear their masks.

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‘Size Fits All Tags’ And ‘Great Clickbait’— People Name The Worst Things That Are Legal

Things That Matter

‘Size Fits All Tags’ And ‘Great Clickbait’— People Name The Worst Things That Are Legal

Beeldbewerking/ Getty

The world is plagued with some crazy and unfair laws, no doubt about it. But what about the things that exist and legal? Why are, for instance, spam callers allowed to trick you by calling from similar numbers to yours? Or, why is it impossible to criminally convict your roommate from keeping you up all night or dipping into your ice-cream and lie about it?

Users on Reddit are asking similar questions and the answers are pretty hilarious but also intriguing.

“I’m just gonna have to say little girl’s beauty pageants. It just doesnt sit right with me. And not only because of the fact it’s creepy, but I feel like it’s stressful on the kid and on their body image.” –kitty-cult

“College book prices and practices. Change a few words in a math book, that’ll be another $100 please. Oh you realized that you can use the book from 10 years ago and succeed? Actually we require you get the new book. Oh you realized you can get the book cheaper from a friend? Actually we’re doing online books now and you need the personalized code. We change it every year even though there have been no breakthroughs in this subject! Knowing the college struggle i have no fucking clue how this is allowed to exist. It should literally be illegal.” –WitlessMean

“Puppy mills.” –thechronicwinter

“Sending letters to home owners labeled ‘IMPORTANT MORTGAGE / FINANCIAL INFO’ or ‘LAST WARNING / NOTICE’ and having the inside look exactly like a bill, letterhead and little box in the corner with figures inside… all to then say ‘refinance with us’ or ‘don’t miss this opportunity for etc etc’ Makes me heart skip every time thinking I’ve forgotten some critical bill until I open it.”- IDUU

“The fact car radio commercials are allowed to have police sirens or car crashes in them as a way to Get your attention.”- jagfanjosh3252

“The size of the ‘x’ button on pop-up ads.” –_Denes_

“Socks: ‘Fits size 6-12.'” –klitorisaurus

“Spice/K2/Synthetic Weed. This may have changed in the last few years but I found it embarrassing that our country locks up thousands for actual marijuana but allowed that shit to be sold at every gas station and liquor store knowing damn good and well that it was hurting and killing people.”-m0ndayisb0ng0day

“You can look up where any one lives because it’s public record. But can we please not have entire websites with data bases full of every person in the country?? I mean think about people who get denied restraining orders and try to move away from their abuser. Six months later and their abuser can just look up their name and find them all over again. This could be detrimental for spouse abuse victims, stalking victims, etc. something should be done about them. It’s terrifying.” –21DrunkPilots

“Lying through your teeth on “news” shows because you claim you’re actually “entertainment”. Even while it has “news” in the title of the station. Being able to lie through your teeth on an opinion show just bc it’s an opinion show. Opinions should be opinions about facts. Opinion should not be an excuse for slander or making knowingly false statements in the media.” –jseego

“No-knock warrants. We’ve seen time and time again where Law Enforcement has the wrong address and some innocent person ends up dead because of a logistical mistake.” –Mr-and-Mrs

“Impossibly hard to cancel subscriptions.” –ungFu-omega-warrior

“Putting unrelated crap into bills to sneak it into law. I know they’re supposed to follow some kind rules related to germaneness, but they clearly don’t, and clearly need actual laws with actual punishments for pulling this crap.” –Gr1pp717

“Multi level Marketing.” –whyykai

“Civil Asset Seizure by Police – No Crimes Needed!”- vegetarianrobots

“The troubled teen industry. Parents pay a company to kidnap kids while they’re sleeping and send them off to ‘therapeutic’ boarding schools where they are abused in every conceivable way.”- MyDongIsAWiFiHotspot

“Sweatshop labor outsourced by tech and Fortune 500 companies. It’s essentially contemporary slavery we collectively allow.”- crumpledForeskin

“Being penalized for calling out sick from work. Edit. Even while the whole world is trying to survive this pandemic, we’re still dealing with this major issue by employers. I work in health care, and I feel like I get shamed by my managers and coworkers when you call out. Especially when you work night shift.” –pongomer

“I (f) bought a car recently. During the process of negotiation I decided I wanted to do more research and the salesman refused to give me the keys to MY car so I could leave. Literally saw me looking for my keys and withheld them while repeatedly saying, ‘But what could I do to get you into this car today?’ I finally demanded my keys but bought the car anyway (they met my asking price and got me the financing I wanted) but I’m SO mad at myself for not making a scene. For allowing that man to hold me hostage and not being outraged. I don’t understand why I didn’t humiliate him and instead meekly just sat and took it. I called the manager the next day. But still. So disappointed in myself…” – UncomonShaman

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