Sponsored by Mill Valley Library Foundation & The Friends
Directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon
In 1989, five youths of color from Harlem were detained for unlawful assembly in Central Park. Nearby in the park that night, a white woman jogger was brutally assaulted, raped and left for dead. Detectives hell-bent on making a quick conviction subjected the naïve, hapless youths to hours of escalating interrogation. Tired, poor and hungry, they were easily manipulated into confessing to what would infamously become known as the “wilding.” All five served six to 13 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. Master documentarian Ken Burns, continuing his exploration of race and power in America, retraces the missteps of the power elite, the media, the lawyers and police in a city split along race and class lines. In unraveling this miscarriage of justice, the film does much more to restore the humanity of these five wronged individuals than did the confession by the actual assailant in 2002.
Film Note Writer: Carol Harada