Central Park Entrance Renamed 'Gate of the Exonerated' in Honor of the 'Exonerated Five'
On Monday, a Central Park entrance was renamed the "Gate of the Exonerated" in honor of the "Exonerated Five."
Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise are the group of five men wrongfully convicted for the rape of a jogger at Central Park in 1989.
According to reports, Salaam, Santana, and McCray were convicted of rape, assault, and robbery. Wise was found guilty of sexual abuse, assault, and riot, and Richardson was convicted of attempted murder, rape, sodomy, theft, assault, and riot.
However, after confessing to being the only attacker in 2002, convicted rapist Matias Reyes' DNA was linked to the crime scene. The "Central Park Five's" convictions were overturned, and the men who became known as the "Exonerated Five" later received compensation from the city.
The unveiling celebrates 20 years since their convictions were vacated.
One of the "Exonerated Five," Raymond Santana, said, "I never reentered Central Park because of what happened to me and my fellow members of the Exonerated Five. Even when my daughter was born, there were moments I wanted to take her because of the beautiful playgrounds for the children, but I couldn't bring myself to enter."
He said, "Now that my daughter is an adult, it's time for us to go to Central Park, see the Gate of the Exonerated, and once again be a part of the park community."
"The commemoration of this entrance is bittersweet," Salaam said. "This Gate of the Exonerated serves as a reminder of the love and support we have received. For that, I am truly thankful and honored - and recommitted to righting the wrongs of our criminal system of injustice to ensure our youth never face what we did."
Mayor Eric Adams stated at the gate unveiling: "The 'Exonerated Five' is the story of the American Black boy, man, story."
According to Adams, the naming "is sending a strong message." he said, "We should be having school trips [to the gate] to talk about this story."
The unveiling of the Gate of the Exonerated caps several years of community talks and collaboration with the #CentralParkConservancy, @nycgov, @mancb10, and @nycparks. Read the story behind it on our magazine: https://t.co/eafRhTCC9C pic.twitter.com/MY1zi0PMjg
— Central Park (@CentralParkNYC) December 20, 2022
Sue Donoghue, the commissioner of New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation, said at the unveiling, "It is our hope that everyone who walks through these gates into one of the most majestic and scenic parts of Central Park will take a moment to reflect and remember those who have fought in the face of injustice."
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