Covering the Central Park Rape
There are times as a news photographer that I cringe when I get an assignment from an editor…and this was one of them. Let me back up….a few days ago I received an email from my mother linking me to a news report about the awful rape and brutal beating of a 73-year-old birdwatcher in a secluded area in Strawberry Fields in New York. Truly horrible, especially being my neighborhood and the fact that it took place in broad daylight near a very popular tourist attraction, the John Lennon Imagine Memorial.
The next morning I got a call from the NY Times asking me to head into the park to take pictures in the more secluded areas known as The Rambles, which are especially popular among birders and nature photographers….and apparently shady sexual encounters according to the article.
I arrived at the entrance of Strawberry Fields where the rape happened and found police tape marking a wide parameter around the popular tourist destination. I made some pictures of the detectives and crime scene unit working before I walked around the entire parameter in search of photos to illustrate the story.
Now, I’m quite familiar with The Rambles in Central Park as I’m and avid walker/jogger and even got married on the north side of The Lake. Normally I hike the paths with enthusiasm, but as I walked the paths on this day, it was a bit haunting given the events of the previous day.
After making some pictures of folks walking through the most isolated areas, I made my way back to my apartment to transmit the photos.
Soon after filing my pictures from Central Park, my editor gave me a call to see if I could rush up to the Special Victims Unit in East Harlem to take pictures of the rapist who was arrested hours earlier. It’s typical for high profile cases that police departments arrange a “perp walk” in order to show off their arrest to the media.
I arrived on the scene and there were already numerous news crews, both stills and video, network satellite trucks, reporters, and many locals (including school kids) waiting for a glimpse of the rapist. There was a lot of anger building among the locals…and they all yelled at him as he was led from the SVU to the awaiting patrol car. I took some audio of the crowd reacting to the man.
As he was led out, he immediately looked like one scary dude. He quickly glared at the news media waiting to take is pictures and spit in our direction before being promptly placed in the car. Locals cursed and jeered at him as he was driven off…
Such is a day in the life of a NYC photographer…
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