The Netflix miniseries “When They See Us” directed and created by Ava DuVernay, is by far one of the most meaningful, impactful, and touching stories on Netflix, with a strong story breaking the internet. Based on the true story of five young and intelligent African-American boys who were wrongfully convicted of the rape of a white woman, brings attention and sheds light on how broken our criminal justice system really is.
There are four strong and hard episodes to watch, that may even bring you to tears, make you angry, or inspire you all together. You’ll see that there was no evidence to support that these young men were even on the crime scene, you’ll see that the head detective Linda Fairstein and many other police officers changed location of the incident to make the story “work” and even coerced the teens with a story about the “Jogger Case” without giving them food, water or sleep for more than 42 hours, although they were just enjoying their time being kids at a park with many other boys.
In episode one, Fairstein was so anxious to arrest someone for the rape, that she immediately suggested that the rape was done by a black man, having every single black boy arrested and interrogated. This is one of the aspects within this miniseries that reflects how our criminal justice systems think and react. In episode two, you will also see how the boys’ families were impacted and how Antron’s family was threatened. As the police officers informed them that if they didn’t go along with the story his father would lose his job, one of the largest sources of income the family had.
Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, and Kevin Richardson all had their childhood stolen from them as they were racially profiled. No woman should be raped or physically assaulted, but no one should have to take the blame, as young as 13-years-old, for something they didn’t even know about.
It’s important to realize the small things within this miniseries, like how the police department all tricked the boys into believing that one another was accusing them of the rape which is shown within all four episodes, although none of the boys even knew each other, making each of the boys lie on one another. Because of course being a kid, you just want to go home, as they were “promised.” You’ll realize that Korey wasn’t even at the park yet enjoying lunch or you’ll see how the police brutally beat up the boys just because they didn’t want to lie about being apart of a horrible incident they didn’t know anything about or not knowing the “correct amount of details” about the rape of Patricia Meili.
In this miniseries, you’ll see our current president, Donald Trump, wishing for the death penalty amongst these boys, who at not one point within the case had any evidence to prove that they were at the crime scene. There are a lot of touching, moving, and heartbreaking scenes that you will see if you haven’t already in the miniseries ‘When They See Us’ and it’s sad to say that this is still happening to this day.
Not only is it important to realize the injustices in their overall cases and sentencing, but also the treatment they received in jail, even by having African-American Guards that allowed the beatings and physical treatment against them. More specifically that Kory, unfortunately, had to experience as he was in an adult prison.
In the last episode of this miniseries, the actual rapist, Matias Reyes, realizes that he is in the same prison with Korey Wise, the person who was paying the time for the crime that he actually committed. Thankfully, Matias confessed to the crime. Although nothing can compare to the time they had to spend in prison, deserved recognition is the closing scene for this miniseries, with a powerful scene of the boys holding hands and rising them in a sense of power.
When watching this miniseries it builds up a lot of emotion and anger. This is a miniseries where you may want to take a break between episodes and get some fresh air and not binge watch it. It’s also important to realize that this is based on a true story and that you should ask any questions that you may have, especially as a teenager.
As an African-American female, who is interested in social justice and criminal defense law, it’s very heartbreaking to see that even amazing attorney or great evidence to prove someone’s innocence, racial injustice will always play a large roll in the punishment or cruelty in many cases. The miniseries ‘When They See Us’ is an unforgettable story that should never be forgotten because these men deserve to have their name called out. So, thank you Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, and Kevin Richardson, you are loved, you are inspiring, you are unforgettable.