"When They See Us" director Ava DuVernay (center) with Kevin Richardson, Antron Mccray, Raymond Santana Jr., Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam, collectively known as the Central Park Five. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Some of Central Park Five, T.I., Ebenezer pastor take part in criminal justice reform efforts

Some high-profile names are taking part this week in efforts highlighting criminal justice reform.

Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana, two of the five men exonerated in the 1989 brutal assault of a jogger in New York’s Central Park, and author and activist Michelle Alexander will be among speakers during a series of events on the criminal justice system at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

They will join the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock and others as part of several days of events addressing the issue of ending mass incarceration.

Alexander is the author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

Rapper, actor and activist T.I. joined Warnock for a press conference Sunday, June 16. Both are participating in a massive Freedom Day Bailout and expungement campaign during the End Mass Incarceration Conference that will be held Monday through Wednesday.

The stories of Salaam and Santana, who both live in metro Atlanta,  were told as part of the highly acclaimed Netflix miniseries “When They See Us.” The men accused in the crime became known as the Central Park Five. In an emotional interview complementing the miniseries,  Oprah Winfrey later renamed them “The Exonerated Five.”

The five men, who were teens at the time, always maintained their innocence and said their confessions were coerced by authorities.

They were cleared years later after another man, Matias Reyes, confessed to the crime and his DNA matched evidence found at the scene.

End Mass Incarceration, or EMI, grew out of work by faith and community leaders, families, and others affected by incarceration. 

 T.I., whose birth name is Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., along with actor Mark Ruffalo and comedian Chris Tucker, have made contributions to the week’s bailout efforts. 

“Cash bail, or wealth-based detention, is one cog in the massive wheel and machinery of mass incarceration crushing poor people every day,” said Warnock in a press release. “We join with faith leaders and human rights activists from all across our nation to say “This must end.”

Dozens of  people  will be bailed out of jails. 

For the full schedule go to www.endingmassincarceration.com.

Among the highlights: 

7 p.m. Monday. Worship service with some of Central Park Five and civil rights Activist Michelle Alexander.

3 p.m. Wednesday. Juneteenth Celebration and Cookout for those released during the campaign and the community. 

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