The mini-series titled “When They See Us,” directed by Ava DuVernay, released in 2019, tells the story of five young men falsely convicted of rape and assault of a young woman in Central Park. The collision of genuine desire to support a friend with the cruel and unjust reality of the investigation process is disclosed through the plotline picturing a young man named Korey Wise. He goes to the police station to defend and support his friend Yusuf Salaam but is ultimately convicted of the crime and is exposed to the most severe punishment in an adult prison. In this essay, the injustice of the American law enforcement system is analyzed from the perspective of the role of Korey Wise in the investigation process.
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Korey Wise goes to the police station with his friend Yusuf with the only aim to support him. As the police officers taking Yusuf to the stations say, Korey is not on the list of suspects. That is why he initiates going with his close friends to demonstrate his friendship and the understanding of its importance under the circumstances of the harsh reality of life in Harlem. Such a decision to follow his close friend regardless of the implied adverse consequences demonstrates Korey’s awareness of the police’s unjust attitude toward black men.
Korey Wise going to the police station with his friend justifies his belief in friendship as the means that can protect Yusuf if he is not let alone with the police. The biased criminal justice officers might expose the suspect to pressure and convict him of a crime with no legal basis. Moreover, the underage suspects have limited rights and might be not aware of the threats their exposition to interrogation might bring.
Korey Wise is going to the police station with this friend because he wants to protect the ones who are close to him. This is the tradition of loyalty that has been a means of survival in the African American communities in the US big cities. Such an attitude and the overall need for protection justifies the assumption that when a black person is let alone with the justice system, he or she is very likely to be convicted, even falsely.
Korey Wise going to the police station with this friend shows his personality, which is formed under the continuous influence of unfair treatment from the side of authorities toward young black men. Like thousands of other young African Americans, Korey does not trust the police and tries to confront injustice. Unfortunately, his desperate attempt to win the struggle with long-established rules of a biased system fails and he becomes not only a suspect but is convicted of a crime that neither he nor his friend has committed.
Korey Wise going to the police station with his friend, shows that despite his awareness of the police’s unfair attitude, he remains naive to the criminal justice system and exposes himself to being treated as a suspect as well. Being unprotected by anybody else, he becomes fragile in the face of the authority of criminal justice. He suffers the burden of adult imprisonment since he is the only sixteen-year-old among all the convicted.
The overall analysis of the film allows for making the conclusion that young black men in America experience continuous pressure of injustice and authorities’ biased attitudes on a racial basis. The color of their skin and the implicit connotation of their living environment exposes them to severe living conditions and oppression. The film shows the severity of the problem, which cannot be mitigated by separate individuals and must be addressed by the government.
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