****** SPOILER ALERT ****** In each part of this blog series, I’m going to review/recap each individual episode, then give my thoughts about what I’ve seen. If you have not seen the series and want to watch it, don’t read this post until after you’ve seen Part 1.
This series initially began with a glimpse into the life of each boy. It didn’t take long for things to progress and for the boys to be arrested. They had followed a group of other young people to Central Park one night and saw them attacking joggers and bicyclists. However, the boys were not involved. When the police came to break up the fight, they caught Kevin walking in the park and the officer hit him on the head with his helmet, knocking him unconscious. I really did not expect this part because Kevin had only wandered to the park to see what was going on. Linda Fairstein’s initial appearance in the show isn’t positive. She immediately assumed one or more of the boys that had been arrested in the park was guilty of the crime. In her eyes, they were suspects and she was determined to pin the crime on someone from that group.
The interrogation was very difficult to watch. The detectives made it seem that there was no other choice but to “confess”. I put that in air quotes because the confessions were all coerced. Although they were at the park at the same time, the boys did not know each other. The only two who knew each other were Yusef and Korey. Antron, Raymond, and Kevin were repeatedly asked if the others had been involved in the incident. To try to get out of the situation, they felt that they had to pin the crime on each other. I was outraged when they began to say that Kevin was guilty because of the head injury he received from the officer. They claimed that he’d been scratched by the rape victim.
I felt tears in my eyes when Antron’s father told him to tell the police what they wanted to hear because he thought it was better for him. It was truly wrong for his father to be threatened with his job if Antron continued to say he was not guilty. I don’t have children yet, so I can’t imagine how it would feel to be a parent in this situation. When Yusef’s mother arrived at the station and stated that her son was 15 years old and too young to be interrogated without the presence of his parent, I could only shake my head. All the interrogations except Antron’s had been done without the presence of a guardian. Even when Antron’s father left the room, they interrogated him more. The prosecutor knew that what they were doing was not right and simply didn’t care. For them, it was best to keep the boys alone because they could manipulate their fear and desperation to their advantage. When the boys were finally in the room together, it was clearer than ever that they really didn’t know each other. They were meeting for the first time under police custody and had been forced to name each other in a crime that none of them had been a part of.
I can honestly say that I needed a break after that first episode. I felt a little drained because I didn’t expect it to invoke such a strong emotional response from me. I think the very beginning of the episode did a great job in capturing that they were children. They were only doing what kids do. In less than 24 hours, they had become criminals in the eyes of the prosecution only because they had happened to be in the park during the time of the crime. What I wondered at the end was why. Of all the boys they had picked up that night, why were those five the ones who had to be guilty? What made them pick those five boys? I’m not sure if that question will be answered but I am sure that I will have a lot more questions after watching the next part.