Ava DuVernay will write and direct an upcoming limited series about the Central Park Five for Netflix, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The series will mark DuVernay’s second project for Netflix, after the 2016 documentary 13th, which earned an Oscar nomination.
The Central Park Five refers to five men — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise — who were wrongly convicted in 1990 of assaulting and raping a female jogger, Trisha Meili, in Manhattan’s Central Park the year prior. In 2002, a convicted murderer, Matias Reyes, confessed to the crime, which was confirmed by DNA evidence.
"The story of the men known as Central Park Five has riveted me for more than two decades,” DuVernay said in a press release. “In their journey, we witness five innocent young men of color who were met with injustice at every turn — from coerced confessions to unjust incarceration to public calls for their execution by the man who would go on to be the President of the United States."
DuVernay is referring to Donald Trump’s repeated calls to bring back the death penalty after the five men were arrested in 1989. He reportedly spent $85,000 placing full-page ads in New York City newspapers about it. Even in 2016, years after the men’s convictions were vacated, Trump reaffirmed that he believed they were guilty.
DuVernay’s five-episode project will focus on each of the five teenagers and the systemic racism in our criminal justice system that often leads to wrongful convictions. The series will span from 1989 to 2014, when New York City finally settled a lawsuit first filed by the men in 2003.
The currently unnamed series is set to land on Netflix in 2019.