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Ava DuVernay's Central Park Five Series 'When They See Us' Is Going to Be a Gut-Punch for Trump

Trump famously railed against the wrongfully convicted teens. Now DuVernay is going to tell their story.

by Taylor Hosking
Mar 1 2019, 5:46pm

Screengrab via Netflix

On Friday morning, Ava DuVernay tweeted the trailer for her highly anticipated limited series on the Central Park Five, When They See Us, and looks like it's going to make a hell of a splash. The five-part series tells the story of the five black and Latinx teens that were wrongfully convicted of raping a woman in New York in 1989—and the horror of what happened next.

In the trailer, a woman—presumably a mother of one of the convicted boys—narrates softly while a young boy moves from his bedroom, to a crime scene, to a jail cell, all in a disturbingly quick flash. Then, you hear what sounds like a cop: "You stop every little thug you see," she says. "You bring in every kid who was in the park last night."

When the boys were making headlines in the late 1980s, Donald Trump was up in arms against them, taking out $85,000 in ads in the local press calling for the teens to receive the death penalty, personally writing, "Muggers and murderers should be forced to suffer." They spent decades in jail before DNA evidence exonerated them in 2002, and the city paid them back $41 million for the trauma they endured in 2014. But some folks—most notably, President Trump—still didn't believe they were innocent. During the 2016 election, Trump doubled down on that stance.

"The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty," Trump told CNN at the time. "The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same."

On Twitter, DuVernay came straight for people like Trump who were quick to jump to conclusions about the boys. "Not thugs. Not wilding. Not criminals. Not even the Central Park Five," she wrote. "They are Korey, Antron, Raymond, Yusef, Kevin. They are millions of young people of color who are blamed, judged and accused on sight. May 31. A film in four parts about who they really are. WHEN THEY SEE US."

When They See Us, starring Michael K. Williams, John Leguizamo, Neicey Nash, and Blair Underwood, hits Netflix at the end of May—and judging by the trailer, it's going to be a gut-punch for Trump when it drops.

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