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To Which Extent Are the Central Park Five Justified in Seeking and Receiving Reparations?

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To which extent are the Central Park Five justified in seeking and receiving reparations?

On April 19, 1989, an event occurred that would shake the foundations of New York City and the nation — the Central Park jogger case. A 28-year old woman was found almost dead in a ditch in the expanse of Central Park. Throughout the proceedings of the case, there arose five suspects: Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise and Raymond Santana. All five were convicted of the crime and sent to jail. However, the confession of Matias Reyes in 2002 reopened the case and upon reexamination of the genetic evidence which pointed to Matias Reyes, the five men were released from prison and exonerated. Upon their release, the five opened a lawsuit against the city seeking reparations for their time spent in prison due to unlawful conviction. This decision aroused controversy from around the nation. Proponents of the lawsuit base their claim on the moral responsibility to enact justice for the parties affected whereas the opponents question the validity of the exoneration and detest the amount of resources being used on the situation in their polemic. Although both sides have well-supported arguments, the middle path must be sought by recognizing both the plight of the five accused as well as the potential crimes they may have conducted that night in determining the reparations for the case.

The opposition warns against granting compensation to the five due to an array of ethical reasons. (simple) Amongst their numerous points of contentions is whether or not the five should truly get off scot free. (simple) These people claim that the confession of Matias Reyes in addition to the numerous inconsistencies among each of the five’s confessions are not enough to prove their innocence. (simple) To that end, the opponents cite testimonies from multiple sources including the accused themselves that place them with a gang of teenage boys wreaking havoc throughout the park and being associated with several other assaults. Seen in these terms, the dissenters gain credibility in declaring that these other assaults can not be ignored. (compound-complex) Based on this point, the dissenters assert that complete exoneration of all charges is not valid because as Donald Trump states in his interview, “these men do not exactly have the pasts of angels”. (complex) Furthermore, the opponents of the lawsuit contest the hefty amount of 41 million dollars being discussed with some going insofar as to say that it was the “heist of the century” (Donald Trump). (simple) This growing sentiment is shared among many of the contenders who oppose the reparations. (simple) Many consider it to be a loss of taxpayer dollars that would be better employed in other needs. (simple) All things considered, the opposition believes there to be a lack of knowledge and caution in the public concerning the case; as a result, biased decisions may come about due to heightened emotions. (compound)

In seeking recompense, many proponents proclaim that the five are simply exercising their rights as citizens and people who were wronged. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City has asserted in numerous statements that the “settlement [would be] an act of justice for those five men that is long overdue” demonstrating the strong grip that morality has on the argument. Advocates of this claim employ pathos to convey their position. As the five men have suffered a punishment for a crime they did not commit, it is only ethical that they receive compensation of some sort. Moreover, the supporters cry “race” as a pillar to ground their argument. In part, this is because of the underlying beliefs that racism played a major role in influencing the original jury and the public at the time of the crime to oppose the five accused. In regards to how racism shaped the case, the advocates allude to the corrupt abuse of power at the time as the media “took advantage of the confusion to spread harmful propaganda” (Julia Dahl). Apropos of this, the proponents declare that as people who ignored or even supported their denunciation at the original time of the trials, the public has a responsibility to help these men receive the justice they deserve. In essence, the supporters strive to appeal to the public by taking the moral high ground and projecting justice as their emblem of war.

While both sides claim to be mutually exclusive, both share a common ideology guiding their way — namely morality and justice. With such deep seated beliefs,



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