July 14, 2011


Sarah Burns, The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding (New York: Knopf, 2011) ("The media coverage was certainly not the only reason these teenagers were wrongly convicted. The police, the prosecutors, and the defense lawyers all played a role. But this was not a case of rogue detectives beating confessions out of suspects, or of the police and prosecutors conspiring to frame individuals they knew to be innocent. If that were so, we could blame it all on those bad seeds and move on. Instead, this case exposes the deeply ingrained racism that still exists in our society. It shows us who and what we fear, and how easy it is for us to believe the sensational stories we hear from the media, who often fail to apply the skepticism their profession demands when competition drives them to sell newspapers or attract more viewers." "The false narrative, disseminated by the police and the media, was swallowed whole by the public because it conformed to the assumptions and fears of the city and the country. Everyone bought the story. But the fact that so many continue to promote this narrative tells us that even though we live as some like to say, in a 'postracial' society, the racism that fueled the original rush to judgment persists, and that we have not evolved enough from the days when even the suggestion that a black man had raped a white woman could lead to a lynching." Id. at x-xi.).