Ken Burns Footage Blocked From New York City

Raw footage from a Ken Burns documentary film was blocked from New York City in a federal ruling issued today.

New York City was seeking to obtain outtake footage from Burns’ documentary The Central Park Five. The film explores the case of five men who were wrongfully convicted in the brutal attack on a woman known as the “Central Park Jogger.”

According to Variety, civil litigation has been brought against the city from Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Kharey Wise, and Yusef Salaam, the men who are chronicled in the film. Each were convicted and served time for the 1989 attack before being exonerated by DNA evidence in 2003.

Following their release, the five men sought civil action against New York City, the district attorney, and the New York Police Department. The city intended to use raw footage from the Burns documentary in preparation of its defense in the litigation.

The Associated Press writes that US Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis denied the request, ruling that the filmmakers behind The Central Park Five are protected by journalistic privilege.

Celeste Koeleveld, attorney for New York City, expressed disappointment over the Ken Burns footage being blocked:

“While journalistic privilege under the law is very important, we firmly believe it did not apply here. This film is a one-sided advocacy piece that depicts the plaintiffs’ version of events as undisputed fact. It is our view that we should be able to view the complete interviews, not just those portions that the filmmakers chose to include.”

Do you think the Ken Burns documentary footage falls under journalistic privilege and should be blocked from New York City?