by Karima Amin

 

On May 5, fifteen of us from Prisoners Are People Too, Inc. traveled to Albany, NY for a Day of Action against Mass Incarceration. This was an opportunity to learn, network, and speak truth to power.  The Buffalo delegation described the day as empowering, inspiring, and hope-FULL. Prisoners Are People Too, Inc. has many concerns regarding criminal justice issues in genral and prisoner justice issues specifically. Our concerns are high priority and we need your help in tackling them. While in Albany, Buffalo folks had much to say about solitary confinement, parole reform and the plight of Reformed Offenders, men and women who have taken steps to better their lives in an effort to become assets to family and community. A visit to our website, www.prp2.org shows that we are on the frontlines of many issues and we have a sincere interest in our youth.

 

May 19 – 26, 2014 will mark the 2nd annual National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth. To shed some light on this issue, Prisoners Are People Too, Inc. will be screening “The Central Park Five,” an award-winning documentary about five Black and Latino teens from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in NYC’s Central Park in 1989. The victim became known as “The Central Park Jogger.” These boys spent between 6 and 13 years in prison before a serial rapist admitted that he alone had committed the crime, and the boys’ convictions were overturned and they were exonerated in 2002.  Although youth incarceration has declined in recent years, America still has thousands of juveniles (under age 21) who are confined in adult facilities and many who are incarcerated for life with no possibility of parole. America incarcerates more of its youth than any other developed country in the world. Most are Black, Latino and poor Whites.  Police coerced these boys into confessing and their photos, names, and addresses were released to media coverage, which sensationalized the case.

 

 These men, now in their 30s, have sued the city and the City Council passed a resolution to pay them  $250 million. In 2013, Mayor, Bill de Blasio agreed to settle. Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Antran McCray, and Raymond Santana want justice and closure. To date, the suit against the city has not been settled.

 

The film highlights circumstances of race and class that led to the boys’ being criminalized before arraignment and conviction. What happened in 1989 could easily happen today. With limited understanding of race and class, an over-zealous police force, media that cares more about profit than people, and malicious prosecution, our youth could  find their lives similarly devastated.

 

Join us for the screening of “The Central Park Five” with a brief follow-up discussion at the next meeting of Prisoners Are People Too, Inc. on Monday, May 19, from 7:00 to 9:30pm at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street, Buffalo, NY.

 

For more information: Karima Amin, 716-834-8438 or karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org; or BaBa Eng,  g.babaeng@yahoo.com.

 

PLEASE NOTE THE DATE AND TIME CHANGE.

“God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through.” (Anonymous)

Karima Amin is a longtime Buffalo Activist, Educator, and Storyteller as well as founder and director of Prisoners Are People Too (PRP2).