Central Park entrance renamed to honor 5 teens falsely convicted of rape in 1989

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Monday, December 12, 2022
Central Park entrance to honor 5 teens falsely convicted of 1989 rape
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"The Gate of the Exonerated" honors the teenagers known as the Central Park Five who were wrongfully convicted in a 1989 attack and rape. Jim Dolan has more.

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- A Central Park entrance will be named "The Gate of the Exonerated," for the teenagers, known as the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully convicted in the 1989 attack and rape.

"The Gate of the Exonerated" will be on the north end of Central Park at 110th Street between Fifth Ave and Malcom X Blvd.

Workers are constructing a refashioned gate and will add signs explaining the story of the Central Park Five.

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The case of a white woman raped in Central Park, allegedly by a group of Black and Latino men, sparked racial tension in New York and across the country.

In time, another man confessed to the Central Park rape and his DNA matched the DNA found at the scene.

The men were cleared in 2002 and received a $41 million settlement.

"This gate will say to those who are exonerated and their families and their friends, you matter, you are on a gate, you are in Central Park, you are in Harlem, you have meaning, you are part of our community," Council Member for the 6th District of Manhattan Gale Brewer said.

A spokesperson for the Central Park Conservancy released the following statement:

"Today's unanimous vote is the capstone of years of work with the Harlem community, Manhattan Community Board 10, and NYC Parks to commemorate the Exonerated Five and all those wrongfully convicted of crimes. The Central Park Conservancy has worked alongside the Harlem community for more than 40 years, and we are proud to have helped the Gate of the Exonerated come to life in a way that emphasizes how Central Park is meant to be a place for everyone."

Sharonne Salaam is the mother of Yusef Salaam, one of those wrongly convicted.

"My son had just turned 15. He spent seven years in prison and three years on parole as a sexual predator of the highest degree," Salaam said.

She says her son is better at forgiveness than she is. Salaam says it's hard to forget what an overzealous prosecution cost her son and cost his friends, in addition to the pain and frustration that it caused for all of the families, over so many years.

Naming the gate doesn't erase all that, but she says she takes some pride in seeing an accurate description of her son and his friends, finally etched in stone.

The Public Design Commission gave final approval to the project, which will be unveiled on Dec. 19.

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