*Ava Duvernay’s four-part miniseries “When They See Us” has been the most-viewed series on Netflix for the past 13 days in the U.S. since it premiered on May 31,” the streaming giant tweetedWednesday.
The four-part series tells the story of five teenage boys of color who were wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in Central Park in 1989. During their interviews with police, they were held without food for hours and were coerced into saying they were involved in the crime. They spent between six and 13 years in prison before DNA tests proved their innocence. The men were exonerated in 2002, and the city awarded them a $41-million settlement in 2014.
The teens were dubbed the Central Park Five but DuVernay says “We call them the Exonerated Five.”
The series has led to unrelenting backlash against Linda Fairstein, former head of the sex-crimes division of the Manhattan district attorney’s office overseeing the “Central Park Five” case, and lead prosecutor, Elizabeth Lederer, who recently has resigned from Columbia Law School.
Fairstein has been dropped by her book publisher and was forced to resign from Vassar College’s board of trustees as well as her positions with multiple philanthropic organizations.
The Jasmine Brand caught up with Duvernay at Netflix’s FYSEE event and she explained why now is the perfect time to release “When They See Us,” as well as why she no longer refers to them as the Central Park Five.
“We were hoping to release it around the 30th anniversary of the real events, to just memorialize what happened to these boys. And to be able to now that they are men, we don’t call them the Central Park Five. We call them the Exonerated Five, the Innocent Five. We reclaim their humanity that was stripped from them when they were called thugs and wolf pack, wilding. That’s been our goal, our intention.”
She noted how supportive the community has been since the series debuted.
“It’s been really beautiful to see the way the community especially has rallied around them, has held them up, has championed them, has loved on them. They really felt it and I think it’s bringing them a sense of peace.”