Wednesday, November 8th

NW Film center, Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum

Doors open 6:30 pm, program begins at 7 pm

$15 suggested MINIMUM donation at the door

Join us for a night at the movies in support of a great cause: justice! We'll be screening the powerful documentary "The Central Park Five" which tells the story of one of America's most shocking cases of wrongful conviction and how it was put right. Last year, Donald Trump told CNN that he still believed the five were guilty, despite DNA evidence exonerating them and a confession from the real perpetrator. Get your questions about how this can happen to innocent people and what we're doing about the problem in Oregon answered after the movie by our panel of experts who will share their knowledge and real-life experience with you. All proceeds from this event will support our work and that of the NW Film Center. This is a Willamette Week Give!Guide event.


The lives of five black and Latino teens in 1980s New York were irrevocably changed when they were arrested and charged with a brutal physical and sexual assault on a woman jogger in Central Park. A firestorm of media attention fed the public's appetite to know more about the case and to see someone brought to justice for this horrifying crime. Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, and Korey Wise spent years in prison for their supposed involvement, before being exonerated when the truth finally became known. Based on a book by Sarah Burns and co-directed by her husband, David McMahon and father, the renowned filmmaker Ken Burns, this gripping film tells a story of innocence, prejudice, and the quest for justice.

The Central Park Five was released in 2012 and has been critically acclaimed. The film has won, among others, a Peabody Award, an Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award, a Black Film Critics Award, and a New York Film Critics Circle Award.


The panel

SCOTT CANNON was wrongfully convicted of a triple murder in Polk County west of Salem, Oregon, and spent more than a decade behind bars before his conviction was overturned. Scott was tried for the crime in 2000 and could have received a death sentence. In the end, he was sentenced to life without parole. The bullet analysis technique used to compare the bullets found at the crime scene to some at Scott's home that helped to convict him was later discredited as worthless junk science. Scott was freed in 2009 and still lives in Oregon. 

JANIS PURACAL co-founded the Oregon Innocence Project (which is administered by the Oregon Justice Resource Center) in 2014. She works pro bono as an attorney for the Project and leads our amicus (“friend-of-the-court”) work.  Puracal became devoted to innocence work after she successfully represented her brother, Jason Puracal, in an international campaign to release him from wrongful conviction in Nicaragua.  Jason was freed in September 2012 after nearly two years in captivity and an international legal, diplomatic, political, and media campaign by his family and friends. Janis and Jason Puracal have continued to work together to advocate for legal reform. Janis Puracal has won awards for her pro bono contributions to social justice. She is an experienced trial and appellate attorney, practicing at a Portland law firm.

STEVE WAX served as Oregon's Federal Public Defender from 1983 to 2014, and was one of the longest-serving public defenders in the country. Steve and his federal defender team successfully represented six men formerly held as "enemy combatants" in Guantanamo. He joined the Oregon Innocence Project (which is administered by the Oregon Justice Resource Center) in 2014 as Legal Director. Wax has taught at Lewis & Clark Law School, serves as an ethics prosecutor for the Oregon State Bar, and lectures throughout the country. He has been honored for his work by, among other groups, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Jewish Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Constitution Society. Kafka Comes to America, his book about his work representing Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield and the men in Guantanamo, has won four national awards, including the prestigious ABA Silver Gavel.

NICK YARRIS spent more than 20 years in prison in Pennsylvania for his supposed involvement in what became known as the Tri-State Mall Murder. The victim, Linda May Craig, was abducted, raped, and murdered on her way home from work in 1981. Yarris became implicated in her death after a routine traffic stop turned into an altercation with a police officer. He was convicted and sentenced to death. He remained on death row for two decades, from where he appealed against his conviction. DNA evidence from a glove found at the crime scene was finally able to prove his innocence and he was released from prison in 2004. Today, Nick Yarris lives in Oregon and works as a writer and professional speaker.

event details

This event will take place Wednesday, November 8th, at the NW Film Center at the Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the program begins at 7 pm. A panel discussion moderated by our Executive Director, Bobbin Singh, will follow the screening. A $15 suggested minimum donation is kindly requested at the door. 

This a Willamette Week Give!Guide event. Learn more about the Give!Guide here.


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