NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Protesters stood on the steps of City Hall Tuesday demanding justice 22 years after the rape of a woman known as “The Central Park jogger” shocked the city.
City Councilman Charles Barron led a demonstration insisting New York City compensate the “Central Park 5,” who were exonerated in the attack nearly 8 years ago, for their lost years and wrongful imprisonment.
“My life was stolen from me. And so now as a 36-year-old man going on 37, who would have a stable career with his own apartment, own car, a family. I don’t have any of that. So this is where my problem is,” Raymond Santana, one of the falsely accused men said.
1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks with reaction from the protest
Trisha Meili, a small, 28-year-old old investment banker was dragged, beaten and sexually assaulted on April 19, 1989. She was found bloody and near death hours later. When Meili finally gained consciousness, she couldn’t remember anything about the horrible attack.
The crime became a symbol for the times, and gave rise to the term “wilding” where gangs of youths roamed the park, terrorizing anyone who crossed their paths.
Police quickly arrested a handful of young men and eventually got Santana along with Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson and Kharey Wise to confess on video tape. They also implicated a fifth suspect — Yusef Salaam.
The cases divided the city along racial lines. The Central Park 5 went to prison with sentences ranging from six to sixteen years.
The five men were exonerated in 2002 when the actual rapist in the attack came forward.
“It’s been a long time — twenty-two years of my life. America, we just got to do something. We got to do something. I been waiting a long time for justice,” Wise said.
Santana said he and the other 4 men accused “were taken from our homes, robbed of our youth, given labels of ‘rapist, monsters, animals’ or ‘wolf pack.'” On the 22nd anniversary of the attack, Santana said the day reminded him of the “struggle, hardship, pain and suffering.”
Each of the five men are seeking $50 million in damages, but their lawyers said so far the city has refused to settle.
SOUND-OFF: Do you think the city should compensate the “Central Park 5?” Do you think they will be successful with their lawsuit? Let us know in the comments section…