Two men who were wrongfully convicted when they were just teens for the 1989 rape of a jogger in New York City are telling their story through the new Netflix series "When They See Us."

The men are better known as members of the Central Park Five and they are the focus of the series which is currently streaming and becoming a cultural touchstone for the way it portrays the racial and economic injustice in the justice system.

Brief history

Five teens, all between the ages of 14-16 at the time of their arrest, were convicted in the infamous case that left a racial and economic divide across New York City beginning in 1989. In 2002 all five were exonerated of their charges by the confession and the DNA of the real rapist. 

Present Day

Kevin Richardson, Antron Mccray, Raymond Santana Jr., Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam are fighting, speaking out and campaigning for a criminal justice system -- one they believe in but said doesn't work.  

Salaam and Santana now live in Atlanta and they said they want one thing. 

"We want a criminal justice system that works," Yusef Salaam told 11Alive's LaPorsche Thomas.

The men said dealing with the tragedy, anger, heartache and injustice has been an everyday battle for three decades.

They spoke Wednesday morning in a live interview on V-103’s The Morning Culture, with Frank Ski, Jade Novah and JR

“We became the most hated children in America. And we got convicted for something that we didn’t do," Santana said. 

“And so they continue to paint that false narrative," Salaam said. 

Salaam and Santana said the 30 year bout has never ended for them. With the case facts brought to light by the highly acclaimed series "When They See Us" these two men said they now see the shift in support weighing in their favor..but with more support comes daring opposition. 

“As long as she, Linda Fairstein, keeps speaking out against us, we have to always be in defense mode," Santana said. "So, when do we reach the point of, we say, all right, we have justice now, now we can relax?"

Fairstein, who was the head of the sex crimes unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office at that time and one of the prosecutors in the 1989 national case, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post to address Ava Duvernay's powerhouse series. 

Fairstein told The Washington Post that "When They See Us was "full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication.” Social media responded to her with the hashtag #CancelLindaFairstein. She has since been dropped by her book publisher and has stepped down from a number of boards. 

Purpose 

Santana and Salaam said they were able to find their life's purpose through those trying trials and tribulations. 

“The powerful part is knowing the ending, that we survived, that we’re still here, that we have our minds, that we have our faculties, that we are willing to share," Salaam said. "We are willing to help people get out of their own prisons."

He said it's all about helping people realize that we have comeback power. 

“We are recognized as the Central Park Five, but I want folks to realize that that morphine of the Exonerated Five is the real us…how great it is to be known as the Exonerated Five," Salaam said. 

Outcome 

The men received a $45 million settlement from New York State. Collectively they served nearly 40 years in prison before exoneration. 

Santana went on to create the clothing brand Park Madison NYC. Salaam is the author of "Words of a Man", a motivational speaker and mentor. 

Both men are advocates for wrongfully convicted prisoners and participate in Innocence projects across the nation to fight for justice. 

For more information on the Georgia Innocence Project click here.

Check out the playlist below to watch more clips and raw conversation related to surviving prison, not being overcome by hate, seeing the series for the first time, Korey Wise and more. 

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