In April 1989, five black and brown boys were corralled by the police after the vicious beating and rape of 28-year-old Trisha Meili, who would go onto be known the Central Park jogger.
The young men–Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, and Korey Wise–were brought in by police, coerced into confessing and convicted. Most of the teens spent about seven years in juvenile prisons. Korey Wise, who was 16 at the time, was tried as an adult and sent to Rikers Island where for 14 years he endured countless attacks by inmates.
In Ava DuVernay’s latest film, she tackles the story of the wrongfully accused young men in the original Netflix series When They See Us. The Academy Award-nominated director tackles the story from all angles: the courtroom, the media, the effect it had on the boys, the surrounding communities and their families.
Tapped to play the roles of the five men are Asante Black as Kevin Richardson, Marquis Rodriguez as Raymond Santana, Ethan Herisse as Yusef Salaam, Caleel Harris as Antron McCray and Moonlight actor Jharrell Jerome taking on the emotionally challenging role of Korey Wise.
Vibe sat down with the gentlemen to discuss the weighty film at the New York City junket, and how their views around the word innocence and guilt have changed since the project.