In When They See Us, the new Netflix limited series about the Central Park Jogger case, filmmaker Ava DuVernay presents a narrative that has been rarely presented about the then-young boys who were exonerated of the crimes after being coerced into confessions.
When the series was first announced, many wondered how it would address Donald Trump, given that he took out full-page ads in New York City newspapers, calling for the death penalty to be brought back for the young Black and Latino boys.
In the series, DuVernay essentially uses Trump’s words to spell out his views and how he quite frankly wanted six young boys of color to be killed for something they did not do. Excerpts from Trump’s television appearances are interspersed through the series, amplifying the injustice that was done and highlighting how 2019 isn’t much different than 1989.
DuVernay shared one of the clips from the series before it’s debut on Twitter, in response to a Trump tweet in which he claimed he fixed the 1994 crime bill.
The story people know is the lie that you told them. Your violent rhetoric fed tensions that led to the bill you pretend to distant yourself from. But you can’t hide from what you did to The Central Park Five. They were innocent. And they will have the last word. #WhenTheySeeUs https://t.co/M0hkcnpt0Y pic.twitter.com/gbOIvSW1ou
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 28, 2019
The director told Shadow And Act, “I think there is a world in which I actually got an actor to play Trump and gave real estate in the film to Trump. I’m really not that interested in him or giving him more bandwidth than he already has. So I just said I’ll use his own words, I’ll let him speak for himself. I don’t overdo it, he only comes in at the points where it’s important to the narrative at that moment. But I think, you could overdo it with the Trump stuff, but this is not his story, this is not the story of any people who are against these men. This is the story of the exonerated men and I wanted to stay true to that.”
When They See Us is on Netflix now.