'When They See Us' Movie Review

When They See Us, a very powerful documentary created by Ava DuVernay, laid down the horrific events endured by teenagers known as the Central Park Five in what it means to find and have justice in America while being Black. The lives of five teenage boys, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, and Raymond Santana were shortly taken away from them wherein 1989, joining another crowd of other boys, came to be arrested, convicted, and sentenced for “alleged” raping and beating almost to death Trisha Meili, a young white woman jogger whose body was later found that night.

When the head of the DA’s sex crimes unit, Linda Fairstein, played by Felicity Huffman, hears that a “bunch of turds” were arrested in the same park, the narrative quickly changed. From the evidence and signs pointing to a single attacker to having five innocent teenage boys being accused of something that they were clearly not involved in. Even though Fairstein and her team were never really labeled as racists explicitly, throughout the movie, you will gain a sense of white privilege and prejudice from every assumption made in an agreement amongst all of the white authorities that the teenage boys were oblivious suspects that matched the description. That they “must have” done it.

In the second episode, it focused more on the trial where there was an absence of physical evidence and witnesses to the scene. When DNA evidence from the crime scene fails to confirm that the teenaged boys were there, prosecuting attorney Elizabeth Lederer offers them a plea bargain. But shortly after, they were all convicted and were to serve between six to thirteen years in prison, with Korey Wise served as an adult. How are they going to admit to something that they didn’t even do? Confessions that didn’t even have consistent details of the crime that they were accused of. In the third episode, it depicts the transition from the boys teenage years to their adult life outside of prison, and how it’s very impossible to find a good job.

This craft by Ava DuVernay and her team highlighted a true, real-life story that covered scenes in the boy’s life that were horrifying and infuriating. This shows you that black people, specifically black men will always be seen as guilty at all times or a threat to the face of white liberals. This movie has shown us that the justice system has and will always continue to fail black people. “When They See Us” doesn’t just touch down on the incidents around NYC, but presenting a clear view image of the difficulties of black men who have come from the prison system, trying to find the life that they once lost mainly over something that they were wrongly accused of.

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