Hello friends, welcome to TV Tuesday! Today I’m here with Netflix’s mini series, When They See Us.
You want to talk about defunding the police, this is a prime example of why; the police have way too much power and they don’t use it for the right reasons. They use their power to fit their own narratives because they can, doesn’t matter if it’s the truth, doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, they do it because they can.
This was, at times, so hard to watch, but it was also so important.
This takes on a real life case that happened back in April of 1989 when a white woman went for a jog in Central Park and ended up beaten and raped. A group of of black boys were in the park “wilding” as what they call it and when the cops show up and chase them out of the park. Obviously they scatter, but not all of them get away.
The first episode takes a look at the boys who were caught and what happens to them.
It’s a bit of a slow start; there’s a lot of set up that goes into who these boys are, their families, their lives. I appreciated getting to know them before they became criminalized.
We watch them as they hang out with friends, family and girlfriends. They’re just a couple of boys hanging around. When they go into Central Park they’re just messing around, but when the cops come most try to escape, some are not lucky.
At first the cops think that they’re witnesses to this crime. Then as time goes by, and the boys can’t give them any information, they start to create this story. They start thinking that these boys were the ones that did it, so they begin this rampage on getting them to confess. They corner 5 of the boys, the youngest being 14, and they beat and torture them into telling them what they want to hear.
Man, I felt so sick to my stomach watching these boys get beaten into submission.
When they’re all together again in a holding pen, they each say that they ratted the other out, honestly so gut wrenching because you know how much it hurt them to do it, but they had no other choice.
After this, the second episode takes on their trials. Since 4 of the 5 boys are under age they are tried separately.
Watching them fight was hard to watch, knowing that these boys were innocent and the actual rapist was out there maddening.
The fact that all 5 boys all put the crime happening in the wrong part of the park should have tipped them off that maybe they didn’t do it, but like I say- they liked to paint their own narrative to what fit.
Then the whole new information about the semen found in a tube sock that didn’t match any of the boy’s DNA, yet the police were willing to pretend that they never found that out and keep going was enraging.
And to top it off, the lawyer working for the police, who at first seemed like she may be swayed, like she didn’t believe these boys did it, but she went along with it and pretended that she didn’t know there was more DNA evidence.
I was so glad when the examiner who made the discovery said it at the trial because it made the cops look stupid… but obviously it wasn’t enough and didn’t do anything because these boys were still found guilty.
I have to say I was saddened when I heard the outcome. You knew that it could go any which way at this point, but hearing they were guilty was heartbreaking.
Korey’s trial, as he’s tried as an adult, was a little different, I believe he also had more charges placed on him too. He tries to plea and tell them the cops made him say the things he said and that he confessed because if he did then he’d be sent home– which yes doesn’t make sense either way, but all these kids wanted was to go home, they just wanted to be believed and to be left alone.
Korey is found not guilty for some charges, but for rape and assault he’s found guilty.
The third episode shows the 4 boys in juvie and we watch them as the years go by, as their families keep in contact but as they change too.
When they’re finally released on parol, life is obviously not easy.
We watch Raymond a lot. When he’s released he goes back to live with his dad and his dad’s new wife and family. The small house is crowded and his dad’s new wife does not like him. She thinks he is a rapist and doesn’t like that he’s in her house. His dad tries to defuse the situation, but he always seems to side with his wife, trying always to appease her. It’s sad to see his dad just be this shell of a person. Raymond doesn’t know what to do- he can’t stay at home, but he has nowhere to go. Getting a job is a nightmare… so he starts to deal drugs so that he can afford a place with his girl. Well that doesn’t turn out well for him because he’s caught and brought back to jail.
We get less of a story for the other three boys.
Antron is released and his mom is so happy. When the trials started his dad, who looked like he had such a prominent role in his son’s life, leaves them. Can’t handle what is happening to his son, and he can’t forgive himself for telling Antron to just tell the police what they want to hear, so he just leaves.
He returns years later, it looks like he may have MS or some other type of muscle atrophy and so Antron’s mom takes him back in.
Now that Antron is back home he doesn’t know how to deal with his father. He ignores him, doesn’t want anything to do with him, the same thing his father did to him.
I can see that his dad is trying, but that was shitty of him to leave all those years ago. Was his dad expecting a loving son to return?
They do have a moment when his dad is trying to get out of bed and just can’t, so Antron helps him back to bed and they cry together; but that’s as close as it was going to get.
As for Kevin and Yusef when they are released they go back to their families, start to get jobs, start to get and get their lives back. Yusef realizes that it’s going to be a lot harder than he thought it would be. I like that the two of them were able to reconnect and become friends; after everything they’ve been through, it was nice to see.
The third episode ends, and we got nothing of Korey, which I thought was strange.
Well, episode four dived right into his story. He honestly got the worst of it, and looking back, he had made the decision to go with his friends that night.
You can see when he’s in prison he goes back to that night in his head and if he’d just stayed back with girl he was seeing, his life would have been so different. He imagines them at Coney Island and it’s so cute- I wish he would have gotten to live that.
Instead, he gets put in adult prison, where’s beaten and ganged up on. He doesn’t think he’s going to make it. He’s then placed in this isolation box where he spends most of his days, thinking about how his life turned out. He does have a guard that is really good to him, I honestly was worried that that guard was going to turn on him, but he never did.
This guard helped him to get a job within the prison, mopping floors, but it was a step in getting a parol hearing.
I think he gets two or three, by the end he doesn’t even go because every time he goes, they want him to confess and own up to the crimes he’s been charged with; to live with what he did, and because he didn’t do it, he won’t admit nor own up to it (which I agree, he shouldn’t). That’s why by the end, he doesn’t go because he knows they don’t want to listen to the truth.
We find out he wants to transfer prisons so that he can be closer for his mom to visit, but the guard even warns him that he can put in the request, doesn’t mean he’ll get closer, he could get farther away.
He does get transferred and since he’s the new inmate it’s like initiation needs to happen and he’s beaten again.
He has a dream about his brother, who as we later find out becomes transgender and wants to be called Marcy. His mother is not about it, saying that he isn’t a real woman, this that and it’s so sad to see their mother just straight up pretend like one of her own doesn’t exist.
You can tell that Korey was the bridge between the two. When we find out that Marcy passed, and his mom comes to visit him, she calls her Marcy for the first time.
Some time passes and the man who actually committed the crime in the park comes clean and confessed to the cops. His DNA matches the DNA they have, he says that he did it alone and he gave them a play by play that would match all the evidence.
That’s when a lawyer goes to talk to the chief of police who was on the case all those years ago just states that “we always knew there was a sixth guy, and now we got him” but this lawyer is not buying it. The cop is just like I did what I did, “they wouldn’t have confessed to something they didn’t do” as if he didn’t beat them to say what he wanted.
I’m glad that they saw through that cop like a freakin’ window because it leads the 5 boys to being exonerated.
When Korey gets that phone call from his mom that he’s being released, all charges are being dropped, oh my goodness, chills. And when the five reunite as one again, chills.
Watching this, I couldn’t believe that this happened, but at the same time I could because there are people so evil and so blind to their own biases and prejudices that things like that happen, and they still happen today. The police force was built on privilege and it runs on biases and prejudices. It was built to make white people more superior than they already are; it was never built for equality, but I hope we strive to move forward to a better future.