On Monday, December 12, The NYC Public Design Commission unanimously approved a vote in a public meeting to name a Central Park entrance after the ‘Central Park Five.’
The group of Black and Latino teenagers—Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray and Kevin Richardson—were wrongfully convicted of a jogger attack on a white woman in Central Park more than three decades ago. According to the New York Times, the group had served between six to 13 years in prison before being exonerated in 2002.
Now grown men, the ‘Central Park Five,’ otherwise known as the ‘Exonerated Five,’ will be honored with the ‘Gate of the Exonerated‘ located on the park’s northern perimeter at the 110th Street entrance between Fifth Avenue and Malcom X Boulevard.
Apparently, the project has been in the works for a few years, as noted during the public meeting. Nonprofit group, the Central Park Conservancy, had been having “extensive dialogue” on ways to publicly acknowledge the injustice for three years now.
Currently, there are nearly 20 named gates in Central Park, after the Commissioner proposed a naming system to honor “professions and groups that helped make New York City a great metropolis,” meant to be “representative of the whole people,” in the 19th-century.
The soon-to-be Gate of the Exonerated is a fairly new entrance and had no prior name. It was created during the 1950s when the Park Commissioner at the time, Robert Moses, added it in addition to playgrounds and pathways, explains the New York Times.
The inscription will be adjacent to the neighborhood where the Exonerated Five had lived, explained a representative in Monday’s meeting. Its location is a “threshold for young people into the park from the community.”
“Every time people go by the gate and remember what happened here, even after we are gone, our story will enlighten people,” Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five, told the New York Times.
The Parks Department will add signage at the site explaining the background behind the naming, along with a QR code that will direct people to a Conservancy landing page providing resources and education awareness through community groups and partner organizations.
Hear more from the meeting here.