Central Park Five co-director Sarah Burns talks racial profiling and media sensationalism
|Yusef Salaam, one of the The Central Park Five.|
In terms of, it's plausible that these children could be capable of this crime.
That's why you have to look back and see that it was bigger than just this story. Why did people think this way? Why do we still think this way? If you look at the statistics of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy which has been getting a lot of attention -- it disproportionately, to a huge degree, affects minorities. I think it's just another sign that we haven't even moved past this idea.
We had a comment on our film's Facebook page saying,"Why aren't we asking questions about why black people commit so many crimes." Sure, people post all kinds of things within the anonymity of the Internet -- but that exists. These kids were the image of what people feared, and who people thought were committing the crimes in the city.
The image "fit the crime," despite any compelling evidence showing that five kids were behind it.
Right. You can understand why the police suspected them, initially -- there was this group of kids in the park, this crime was committed in the same park. That's who they went to. The problem is, they used these techniques to get confessions. I mean, the police will tell you that in general, they don't interrogate innocent people; they only interrogate when they know someone's guilty. But how do they "know someone's guilty" before they have any of the facts?
So they go ahead with these techniques that are really good at "getting confessions" and sure enough, they get confessions. From innocent people and from guilty people. Then, when they do get the evidence, everyone is so sure they are guilty -- because of the confessions and because of (these kids) "fit the profile" -- that nobody seems to be asking the right questions. (Like) wait a second, why don't these statements make sense? How is it that none of their DNA matches? There's no other forensic evidence from an incredibly bloody crime scene? There's not a drop of blood on anyone?
Why didn't anyone say, hmm, maybe we've got the wrong guys. Maybe we should look elsewhere. And if they had bothered to look elsewhere, (the police) could have connected this to Reyes, easily. All of that information was right under their noses, too.