Through the course of working on When They See Us, Ava DuVernay became incredibly close with the men of the central park five.
Over four years, she spent day after day getting to know them and every aspect of their lives. And despite their exoneration, DuVernay says that the men are still incredibly broken.
Speaking with The Daily Beast, she said,
“They’re broken people. Yes, they can get in on a panel and talk about their experience, but they’re not all completely well-adjusted.”
She added that the two who were most affected were Korey Wise, who was tried as an adult, and Antron McCray.
“Korey Wise lost more than his youth—it was 14 years; he goes in at 16; he was the one in there the longest; he goes straight into Rikers at 16 and never comes out; he’s still in while the others are out; and he endured great abuse and great trauma at the hands of the state of New York.”
As for McCray, DuVernay says that his family was completely ruined.
“McCray’s family was fractured in those precinct interrogation rooms. He basically lost his father in that room, and the family broke apart. That family never recovered. And now that both of his parents have passed away, and his mother passed away just over a month ago—she never got to see the film, and she worked on it with me pretty closely—he’s in a state of brokenness.”
In the years since the men have been exonerated, they received a settlement of $41 million from the city, but with no acknowledgment of wrongdoing.
To learn more about what happened to the central park five, check out our article on them here.