Central Park Five Get Standing Ovation at 2019 BET Awards

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 23: (L-R) Korey Wise, Raymond Santana Jr., Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, and Kevin Richardson of the "Central Park Five" speak onstage at the 2019 BET Awards on June 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The five men accused of rape who are collectively called the Central Park Five were favored with a standing ovation at the 2019 BET Awards on Sunday.

Calling them the “exonerated five,” award show host and actress Regina Hall introduced the five men on stage. After Hall’s intro, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr., Korey Wise, and Kevin Richardson took the stage to great acclaim.

Hall noted that the men were “five teenage boys who were falsely accused and wrongfully convicted of an unspeakable crime,” adding that it is a story “that reminds us all of the racial injustices that continue to happen in our culture and plague our justice system.”

“We are all on an individual journey in life. We don’t know where our journeys will take us or how they will collide with others,” one of the men said. “I didn’t know that one day would bond me to these men for the rest of our lives. But I know that in telling our truth, our lives have been changed forever. Your truth is the foundation your legacy will be built upon. Your truth will be the memories people keep long after you’re gone.”

Antron McCray wore a T-shirt with all five men’s names on it, while Raymond Santana wore a shirt with his mugshot on it.

The five were convicted of the brutal 1989 beating and rape of 28-year-old Trisha Meili, who was attacked while jogging in Central Park. They served 13 years in prison before their convictions were overturned when DNA evidence proved their innocence.

In 2014, the five men were awarded $41 million from the City of New York for the wrongful convictions.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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