Dec. 13 (UPI) — New York City will designate a Central Park entrance in honor of the five Black and Latino teenagers who were wrongly jailed for the 1989 brutal beating and sexual assault of a jogger in the iconic Manhattan location.
During a meeting Monday, the city’s public design commission unanimously voted to christen the entrance on 110th Street near 5th Avenue “The Gate of the Exonerated.”
Lane Addonizio, vice president for planning at the Central Park Conservancy, told the meeting that the decision to name the entrance took more than three years of dialogue with members of community about the impact the prosecution and incarceration of the five now men had on the community and their relationship to the park.
The name with be engraved into the stone perimeter wall by the entrance, and Addonizio said there will also be a sign nearby explaining the background behind the naming with a QR code that will lead to a conservancy website landing page with links to online educational resources and information.
Cicely Harris, the chairperson of Community Board 10 in Harlem, described the project as a coming together of Manhattan to realize a sole initiative to bring light to social justice.
“This gate tells a Harlem story that also echos the story of so many Black, Brown and economically disadvantaged people throughout history and across the world. It is only fitting that the most iconic park in the world tell this critical story to the world,” she said.
Known then as the Central Park Five, Antron Mccray, Kevin Richardson, Ysef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise were teenagers when there were accused of attacking Trisha Meili in the famed New York City park.
The boys were convicted and sentenced to between seven and 13 years, but their sentences were vacated in 2002 after convicted murder and rapist Matias Reyes admitted to the crime, which was later confirmed via DNA testing.
Following their convictions being overturned, the men became known as the Exonerated Five.
“The Gate of the Exonerated symbolizes the resiliency of the Exonerated Five and all those who have been wrongfully convicted, and serves as a lasting reminder of the grave miscarriage of justice that took place more than three decades ago,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said in Monday a statement while describing the naming of the gate as a “moment of truth and reconciliation for New York City.”