An entrance to Central Park will be named the “Gate of the Exonerated” to honor the group of Black and Hispanic teens known as the “Central Park Five” who were wrongfully convicted of beating and raping a White female jogger in the park more than 30 years ago.
Individuals from the group, also known as the “Exonerated Five,” each served several years in prison before being exonerated in 2002.
The New York City Public Design Commission unanimously approved the project during a meeting on Monday.
An entrance to the park on 110th Street will have “Gate of the Exonerated” inscribed on the perimeter wall, Lane Addonizio, vice president for planning at the Central Park Conservancy, said at the meeting.
It will also feature a historical sign with background information about the entrance’s name and a QR code linking to online resources, she said.
The Gate of the Exonerated “speaks to the idea of … exonerated people, wrongfully incarcerated people, people who fall under the radar and, oftentimes, do not have access to the services that are deserved by them once their exoneration has happened,” Sharonne Salaam, the mother of one of the “Exonerated Five” said at the meeting.
“The Gate of the Exonerated symbolizes the resiliency of the Exonerated Five and all those who have been wrongfully convicted, and serves as a lasting reminder of the grave miscarriage of justice that took place more than three decades ago,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement.
“Today marks a moment of truth and reconciliation for New York City, and it’s only fitting that the most iconic park in the world tell the world this important story,” the mayor said. “I thank the Harlem community leaders and Community Board 10, whose advocacy made this naming, the first in Central Park’s history since 1862, a reality.”
The unanimous vote is “the capstone of years of work with the Harlem community and Manhattan Community Board 10 to commemorate the Exonerated Five and all those wrongfully convicted of crimes,” a spokesperson for the Central Park Conservancy said in a statement.
“The Central Park Conservancy has worked alongside the Harlem community for more than 40 years, and we are proud to have helped the Gate of the Exonerated come to life in a way that emphasizes how Central Park is meant to be a place for everyone,” the statement said.
An unveiling ceremony will be held next week, the conservancy said.
Featured image: Workers are seen etching the inscription on the perimeter wall.