The 1980s were a grievous time in inner-city America, as the new film “The Central Park Five” makes clear in a montage featuring, among other images, the subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz. Horrific crimes begat horrific injustices, and a sense of hysteria that played out along racial lines.
The 1989 case of “the Central Park jogger,” as the unnamed New York City rape victim was known, marked the height of outrage. But it’s useful to remember that Boston, too, had nationally infamous crimes, including the Carol Stuart murder. And the jogger case, like the Stuart murder, set off a painful rush to judgment. While Boston’s error was revealed when the brother of Carol Stuart’s husband, Charles, implicated him in the murder, New York secured a conviction against five teenagers, four of whom were black and one Hispanic, for brutally raping a 28-year-old white woman.