Trump Refuses To Apologize For Calling For Execution Of Central Park Five In 1989 Now That They’ve Been Exonerated
President Donald Trump on Tuesday refused to apologize for his 1989 comments towards the Central Park Five, a group of young black and Latino men who were wrongfully convicted of raping and assaulting a jogger in Central Park.
In an interview at the White House, the president was asked about the full-page advertisements he had placed in various newspapers calling for New York State to reinstitute the death penalty following the attack. “You have people on both sides of that,” Trump responded. “They admitted their guilt.” He then went on to mention Linda Fairstein, the head of the Manhattan district attorney’s sex crimes unit at the time, saying, “If you look at Linda Fairstein and if you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city never should have settled that case — so we’ll leave it at that.”
Asked by @AprilDRyan whether he has reconsidered his rash demand for the death penalty for the five teens who had since been exonerated of all charges in the 1989 Central Park jogger case, President Trump sided with Linda Fairstein and fellow denialists. pic.twitter.com/tXYGsRGeWU
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) June 18, 2019
His comments are eerily similar to the ones he made following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. During a white nationalist rally, a driver drove his car through a group of counter-protesters, resulting in the death of a woman. At the time, the president said that there was “blame on both sides.”
The Central Park Five had their convictions wiped in 2002, and the state of New York paid them $41 million to settle a subsequent civil lawsuit. Trump’s 1989 comments came to light as part of a renewed surge in interest in the Central Park Five following the release of a Netflix mini-series called When They See Us, investigating the treatment of the men.
In 1989 when the Central Park attack occurred, Trump bought full-page advertisements in four major New York newspapers, including the New York Times, calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty. While he never explicitly called for the Central Park Five to be executed, he made it very clear that his ire was directed towards them and towards their purported assault of Trisha Meili, the Central Park jogger. “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY AND BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” he wrote. “I want to hate these murderers and I always will. I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them.”