[Marxism] The "Wilding Case" and Weapons of Mass Destruction

lshan at bcn.net lshan at bcn.net
Sun Feb 8 14:01:26 MST 2004

Coloring the Central Park Jogger Case
By Lynnell Hancock, Columbia Journalism Review
January 16, 2003

The crime thundered across the airwaves and onto the newsstands. On April
19, 1989, a young, white investment banker, jogging in Central Park, was
bludgeoned, raped and left to die. The police soon charged a marauding group
of Harlem teens with gang rape.

Donald Trump, the real-estate magnate, would spend $85,000 on full-page ads
calling for the death penalty in the jogger case: ³They should be forced to
suffer . . . ,² Trump opined. ³I want them to be afraid.²

Mayor Ed Koch was often quoted calling the arrested boys ³monsters² and
complaining that juvenile laws were too soft.

Pete Hamill, the celebrated city columnist, painted a menacing backdrop:
"They were coming downtown from a world of crack, welfare, guns, knives,
indifference and ignorance. They were coming from a land with no fathers . .
. . They were coming from the anarchic province of the poor. And driven by a
collective fury, brimming with the rippling energies of youth, their minds
teeming with the violent images of the streets and the movies, they had only
one goal: to smash, hurt, rob, stomp, rape. The enemies were rich. The
enemies were white."

Soon after, all five recanted, claiming they were tricked and coerced by the
police. But few people listened. No physical evidence linked the boys to the
scene. All five were convicted as rapists and sent to prison.

As it turns out, some journalists and city officials, prompted by the
Central Park Jogger case, had been meeting informally and considering such
questions for years. . . . Some in The Group said they had realized, in
retrospect, that they had subconsciously wanted the teens to be guilty ­ to
end the explosive fear, to feel safer.

[T]he city¹s high-pitched lust for prosecution fed by the media exposure
made it next to impossible for these boys to get a fair trial. And the reach
of the Central Park jogger story, he observes, was long, well beyond its
time and place. The case set the stage for the reinstatement of New York¹s
death penalty. [The Patriot Act, No-Fly List et al!!]

The press saw the confessions and concluded that the boys were guilty beyond
a doubt. Juvenile experts watching the tapes now, however, see disturbing
inconsistencies. Although the details they provide about the muggings of
other victims that night are in harmony, the boys¹ descriptions of the rape
are conflicting stories.

Without the confessions, the prosecution had no case. None of the boys had a
record of violent arrests. None was linked by DNA to semen or to any other
evidence found at the bloody scene, a fact that raised eyebrows. ³It is
often said that teenage boys can¹t make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
without leaving evidence,² Drizin says. ³The victim lost three-quarters of
her blood, and there was not a drop on these boys. Not a drop. It¹s
difficult to fathom.²

(The prosecution¹s expert witness testified that it was impossible to say
the hairs were the jogger¹s, because the science of hair identification was
so inexact in 1989. Still, in her closing arguments, the lead prosecutor,
Elizabeth Lederer, said unequivocally that the hairs found on Kevin
³matched² with those of the victim.) At his Sept. 1990 sentencing hearing,
Yusef Salaam, fifteen, said, ³I look upon this legal lynching as a test by
my God, Allah.²

If a crime like the rape of the Central Park jogger occurred today, would
the coverage be different? Former News editor Rosen, now the New York editor
at Bloomberg News, believes it would. ³There would be more skepticism about
police procedures,² he says. ³We know more about DNA evidence, about false
confessions, about juvenile issues. And New York is a different place.² [And
after all the lies of all the administrations, today reporters have "more

But oddly enough, the details of these kids¹ nonviolent existences did
little to derail conventional wisdom. Those who believed the boys were
rapists saw these details as horrifying. Instead of casting doubt on their
guilt, it made them seem even more evil. They had no excuses. No
crack-addicted mothers. No blackboard jungle high schools.

The more common treatment was to disparage the suspects. In a Daily News
column, Bob Herbert, one of the few black reporters covering the case, made
fun of both the boys¹ appearance and their lack of cash during the first
trial. Herbert, now a columnist for the Times, caricatured them as ³teenage
mutants.². . . In his Dec. 9, 2002, New York Times column, Herbert called
the original jogger case coverage ³racist² and ³way, way over the top.² He
cast blame on the authorities, on the violent climate and on a ³dopey
defense strategy,² yet did not detail his personal contribution as a
compliant reporter. [And Judith Miller?]


from Brian Shannon

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