President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he would not apologize for taking out full-page advertisements in New York city newspapers in 1989 calling for the death penalty in which five black and Latino were wrongly accused and convicted of brutal rape of a jogger in New York City.
When April Ryan, asked the president if he would apologize to the “Central Park five” for calling for their executions.
Donald Trump was confused by Ryan’s question. “Why do you bring that question up now?” he asked her. He was apparently unaware that he appears in a new Netflix film “When They See Us” in which he called for the death penalty for the teenagers.
“There are people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt,” he said. “If you look at Linda Fairstein, and if you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city should’ve never settled that case. So we’ll leave it at that.”
In a tweet Tuesday evening, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized Trump’s comments, saying the wrongful convictions are “a shameful moment in our city’s history — one @realDonaldTrump fueled.”
“There’s no ‘both sides’ here,” de Blasio tweeted. “We settled the Central Park Five case because they were innocent. Donald Trump is lying.”
However the Netflix series ” When They See Us” has brought about more fallout.Earlier this month, former prosecutor Linda Fairstein was dropped by her book publisher following a social media campaign to #CancelLindaFairstein for her handling of the case. She also recently resigned as a trustee of Vassar, her alma mater.
Elizabeth Lederer, a New York City attorney who was also involved in prosecuting the case, resigned from her teaching position at Columbia Law School, citing the negative publicity the show has brought.
The five boys from Harlem recanted their confessions at trial, but they were charged with assault, robbery, rape and other counts based on forceful police interrogations that lasted for hours without their parents or attorneys even present. They were later convicted and sentenced to prison for raping and assaulting the then-28-year-old female jogger in Central Park in 1989. Their convictions were later overturned after another man confessed to the rape and assault in 2002.
The group of five men – Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise – received a $41 million settlement for wrongful conviction in 2014.
President Donald Trump was outraged over the settlement. He took out full page ads in four NY newspapers, calling for the return of the death penalty, saying that “criminals of every age” who raped the woman in Central park should “be afraid.”
It isn’t clear if Trump knew that the four men were exonerated by DNA tests that proved they did not rape the jogger.
In an op-ed published in the New York Daily News in 2014, Trump called the settlement a “disgrace.”
“My opinion on the settlement of the Central Park Jogger case is that it’s a disgrace. A detective close to the case, and who has followed it since 1989, calls it “the heist of the century.”
Settling doesn’t mean innocence, but it indicates incompetence on several levels. This case has not been dormant, and many people have asked why it took so long to settle? It is politics at its lowest and worst form.”
However, it looks like Trump has still not changed his opinion on the subject of the Central Park 5 in three decades. “These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels,” Trump said in 2014.
Last year, TheGrio.com reported that Trump tweeted, then deleted, the question: “what were the men doing in the park, playing checkers?”
Trump refuses to apologize now even if it means his stance will continue to alienate the Black community.