The Central Park Five are four black men and one hispanic man who were arrested and wrongfully committed for the rape of a white women named Trisha Meili in 1989. They were eventually exonerated after one of the five, Korey Wise, met serial rapist Matias Reyes during his time in prison. Reyes would go on to admit that he committed the crime, and a subsequent DNA test would prove he was at the scene of the crime.
Following the exoneration of the five men, the City of New York agreed to pay them a settlement of $41 million, which was approximately one million for each of their years spent in prison. When They See Us, a four part series on Netflix directed by Ava DuVernay, explores the experience of these five men: Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, and Kevin Richardson.
Here’s what you need to know about where each of the Central Park Five are now:
Raymond Santana Is Now an Activist, Clothing Designer, & Public Speaker
Raymond Santana, now 44, was 14 years old when he was arrested in 1989. He ended up spending seven years in prison for the case.
Now, Santana is, per his Instagram bio, an “Activist, fighter, designer, owner (@parkmadisonnyc ) speaker, father, historian, lover……..” Santana’s clothing company, Park Madison NYC, “constructs lifestyle collections for the rebellious and chic outcast who levels up through style,” per the site.
Santana was actually the one who first reached out to DuVernay with the idea of covering the famous rape case. On April 21, 2015, Santana tweeted to DuVernay, “What’s your next film gonna be on?? #thecentralparkfive #CP5 #centralpark5 maybe???? #wishfulthinking #fingerscrossed”
To The New York Times, Santana said,
[Reliving these events] brings back the pain; it brings back the memories. But it’s necessary. I was ready and I was willing to relive, to go through that pain again, to cry — because it’s necessary. It’s a sacrifice. You want to change the culture, you’ve got to be engaged. This is how we got engaged.
Korey Wise Is an Award-Winning Activist & Public Speaker
Korey Wise, 46, is now an activist, still living in New York. He even received a “Man of Vision” award in March from the NAN NYC Women’s Auxiliary Chapter, per his Instagram. Wise has also worked extensively with The Innocence Project. In 2015, his $190,000 donation to the Innocence Project chapter at the University of Colorado Law School led to the renaming of the chapter, to the Korey Wise Innocence Project at Colorado Law.
Korey Wise was 16 years old when his friend, Yusef Salaam, was taken in for questioning by police related to the jogger case. Wise originally only went with his friend for moral support, and wasn’t a suspect at the time. He was eventually charged in relation to the crime, though, and spent a full 13 years in prison, the longest of any of the Central Park Five.
It was Wise who had a random encounter with Matias Reyes, and whose conversation with Reyes in prison would eventually lead to Reyes’ conviction in the case, and Wise’s total exoneration.
Wise said to The New York Times,
This series is talking to my pain. I’m enjoying it; at the same time, it hurts. But I guess when it comes down to it — people are going to enjoy it. They’re going to enjoy this summer blockbuster
Antron McCray Lives in Georgia With His Wife & Family
Antron McCray, 45, now lives in Georgia with his wife and family, according to The Innocence Project. He has largely stayed out of the spotlight since being released from prison. McCray served approximately seven years in prison before being released.
To CBS News on May 12, McCray gave a rare interview, talking about the interrogation he experienced in 1989. He said,
“I just kept telling the truth at first. They asked to speak to my father. My father left the room with them. Came back in the room, he just changed. Cursing, yelling at me. And he said, ‘Tell these people what they wanna hear so you go home.’ I’m like, ‘Dad, but I didn’t do anything.’ The police is yelling at me. My father yelling at me. And I just like, ‘All right. I did it.’ And I looked up to my father. He is my hero. But he gave up on me. You know, I was telling the truth and he just told me to lie.”
McCray added that he never forgave his father. He said, “No. Didn’t want to. My life was ruined. Why should I? He’s a coward.”
In another interview with The New York Times, McCray said, “I struggle with [my feelings toward my father].” He continued, “Sometimes I love him. Most of the time, I hate him. I lost a lot, you know, for something I didn’t do. He just flipped on me, and I just can’t get past that. It’s real hard. I did seven and a half years [including time spent detained during the trial] for something I didn’t do, and I just can’t get over it.”
As for how he spends his life now, McCray said to The Times,
I’m damaged, you know? I know I need help. But I feel like I’m too old to get help now. I’m 45 years old, so I’m just focused on my kids. I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do. I just stay busy. I stay in the gym. I ride my motorcycle. But it eats me up every day. Eats me alive. My wife is trying to get me help but I keep refusing. That’s just where I’m at right now. I don’t know what to do.
Yusef Salaam Is Now a Motivational Speaker & a Father of 10
According to his site, Yusef Salaam, 45, is now a motivational speaker with his own company, Yusef Speaks. He’s also a father of ten.
Salaam’s bio for his speaking site reads in part,
Since his release more than 20 years ago, Yusef has become a family man, father, poet, activist, and inspirational speaker. He has committed himself to advocate and educate people on the issues of mass incarceration, police brutality and misconduct, false confessions, press ethics and bias, race and law, and the disparities in America’s criminal justice system, especially for young men of color.
The site also notes the number of awards and accolades he’s received, including a lifetime achievement award from President Obama in 2016, and honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Anointed by God Ministries Alliance & Seminary in 2014.
To CBS earlier in May, Salaam said that his experience going through the trial and spending time in prison was something he thinks about daily. He said, “It’s every day. Constantly….probably my second or third thought [every day].”
To The New York Times, Salaam said,
I knew how big [this series would be]. And I knew how small [our story had] become. I say that because when we were found innocent, there was no tsunami of media that followed in the way that tsunami came out within the first few weeks when they thought we were guilty. The criminal justice system says that you’re innocent until proven guilty. But if you’re black or brown, you are guilty and have to prove yourself innocent. And I think that is the difference, that two Americas that is often talked about. There are so many components that let you down.
Kevin Richardson Lives in New Jersey & Is an Activist for Criminal Justice Reform
According to The Innocence Project, Kevin Richardson, 44, now lives in New Jersey with his wife and children. He has worked with Santana and Salaam in the past to push criminal justice reform efforts in New York City over the years.
In the video above, which was taken in 2017, Richardson, Santana, and Salaam all gave a talk at the Fashion Institute of Technology to talk about their experience and their fight for reform.
Richardson was only 14 years old when he was arrested, and he spent seven years in prison. To The New York Times he said,
PTSD is real and I go through that. People might think on the outside looking in that I’m doing swell because we got the settlement. That doesn’t erase the time that I did. We always say we have invisible scars nobody sees. And no matter how you cover it, the scab will keep coming off.
Salaam also said to CBS, “No amount of money could have given us our time back.”