At the “Gate of the Exonerated“ at Central Park, a message is carved in stone

The “Gate of the Exonerated“ at Central Park. Photo: Central Park Conservancy

The name of the entrance is a reminder of a miscarriage of justice and of prejudice by the press

To carve something in stone is an idiom understood around the world. A message with such significance was placed at one of the entrances to Central Park in New York City in December 2022: the wall of sandstone now bears the name “Gate of the Exonerated“ and refers to a terrible miscarriage of justice that put 5 teenagers innocently behind bars for several years.

The boys, from black and Latino families, were 14-year-olds Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson, 15-year-old Antron McCray, and 16-year-olds Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam.

They entered the park through that entrance one evening in 1989. That night, a female jogger was attacked and raped there. The violence was so severe that she was in a coma for 12 days.

The boys were found guilty of acts ranging from robbery to attempted murder. A 16-year-old was punished as an adult because of the severity of the crime.

Later, a violent offender and serial rapist confessed to the crime. DNA analysis showed that he had really attacked the 28-year-old white woman at the time.

Investigations into the case against the youth revealed that they had made their confessions under duress during police interrogations.

The press had made its own judgment early on, inflaming the public. Violence on the city’s streets was a particular issue at the time.

The convicts were acquitted in 2002.

The case, which went down in judicial history as the “Central Park Five,“ was depicted in a documentary in 2012, later in a Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway opera, and finally in a miniseries on television.

In a settlement with the city of New York, the men were compensated $41 million, with $3.9 million from the state of New York.

They chose the name for their gate.

The Gate of the Exonerated is located on the northeast side of Central Park, not far from the intersection of 5th Avenue and 110th Street.

In total, the park has dozens of entrances. About 20 of them bear names from the time when the complex was built around 1860, such as Farmers’ Gate, Pioneers’ Gate, Artists’ Gate or Artisans’ Gate.

Central Park Conservancy
In a contrast to this terrible story something beautiful and easy: Art Garfunkel with “A Heart in New York“ from the concert of Simon & Garfunkel in Central Park (1981) to enhance the run-down city:

(17.03.2023, USA: 03.17.2023)