Raymond Santana, one of the exonerated men of the Central Park Five, received an $8.2 million settlement from the city of New York to compensate him. Recently, he spoke out about what he’s done in the aftermath of the 1989 case that put a spotlight on the tactics and strategies used by police and prosecutors.
Santana, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, and Korey Wise were all wrongfully convicted of beating and raping a white woman in Central Park in 1989. After being convicted the following year and entering prison as teenagers, the young men spent years fighting the system before the convictions of all five were vacated in 2002. The Central Park Five received a $41 million settlement in 2014 for their wrongful convictions and incarcerations.
In a recent interview on “Pierre’s Panic Room, Santana told comedian Pierre Thomas he took care of his family with some of the money he received.
“First thing I did was take care of my family. Took care of my dad. Took care of my sister. Made sure they were straight,” he revealed. “This was a lot of money right and I didn’t know what to do.”
After receiving the money, he said he continued working as a union worker in hospitals for six months. “For me, it was about formulating a plan. Not leaving the job until I’m ready to go. And then I met Ava, and it was like, ‘aw ok, I can leave now.”
Santana and stories from the rest of the Central Park Five men were retold in Ava Duvernay‘s Netflix series, “When They See Us,” in 2019.
The New York native said he bought “stupid things” with the money, including clothes and a Rolex watch. After separating from his now-ex-wife, Santana continued his activism work in Atlanta, where he purchased his first house.
He said, “For me, it represented solitude. It represented peace and I can just decorate the way I want.”
The 47-year-old mentioned that “When They See Us” helped him explore other social activism opportunities.
“I was busy. We did the film with Ava. We was running around promoting that. And then I was on the circuit. Me and Yusuf did a lot of speaking. So we spoke at universities and high schools. We been doing public speaking since 2004 and 2005. But ‘When They See Us Came’ out, it catapulted us to a new platform, and so it made everybody want to book us. So we was busy. We was busy.”
Raymond Santana spent five years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. Turning a negative into a positive, he launched his aspirational clothing line, Park Madison NYC. He still lives in Atlanta with his wife, “Flavor of Love,” reality star Deelishis.
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