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'They admitted their guilt': 30 years of Trump's comments about the Central Park Five

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President Donald Trump doubled down on his controversial stance on the Central Park Five.
Time

President Donald Trump has repeatedly commented on a case that wrongly accused a group of black and Latino men of assaulting a white female jogger in Central Park in 1989.

Trump’s comments surrounding the case, many of which were made in his capacity as a New York business mogul, have resurfaced following a Netflix series on the men who were charged with the assault. The men are commonly referred to as the Central Park Five. 

Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise were all boys when they were convicted of raping Trisha Meili. They were then found innocent of the crime after convicted murder Matias Reyes in 2002 confessed to raping Meili, which was confirmed by DNA evidence. The city awarded the men $41 million in 2014, a decade after some of the men initially sued the city for how it handled the case.

Trump, now president, has doubled down on his stance that some involved in the attack were guilty.

On Tuesday, he dodged questions about apologizing for a 1989 ad calling for the death penalty for those involved in an assault.

‘You have people on both sides of that’: Trump doesn’t apologize to Central Park Five

Trump’s role: Ava DuVernay lets Trump ‘speak for himself’ in Central Park Five series ‘When They See Us’

Here is a history of Trump’s comments and actions surrounding the Central Park jogger case:

“BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY”

Less than two weeks after the attack on Meili, Trump took out a full-page ad in four New York City newspapers with the headline: “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!”

The $85,000 worth of ads wereq published on May 1, 1989, in The New York Times, The Daily News, The New York Post and New York Newsday. In a statement included in the ad, Trump criticized crime in the city and claimed there was no more “law and order.”

Trump, then a popular business mogul, claimed that the city was being “ruled by the law of the streets, as roving bands of wild criminals roam our neighborhoods, dispensing their own vicious brand of twisted hatred on whomever they encounter.”

“At what point did we cross the line from the fine and noble pursuit of genuine civil liberties to the reckless and dangerously permissive atmosphere which allows criminals of every age to beat and rape a helpless woman and then laugh at her family’s anguish?” he continued in the ad.

The ad came several days after New York City police held a controversial press conference claiming that they believed that a group of youth had attacked Meili. Authorities also claimed in the press conference that they were a part of a group of 32 young boys who assaulted eight other people the same night Meili was attacked.

Trump in the ad said he hated “these muggers and murderers.”

“They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples for their crimes,” he continued. “They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence.”

“Maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done”

Trump defended the ads several days after they were published in an interview on CNN.

He said that he did not believe that the ads were “inciteful,” according to a 2016 CNN article that dug up the May 17, 1989 interview.

“I have never done anything that’s caused a more positive stir. I’ve had 15,000 — 15,000 — letters in the last week and a half,” Trump said. “The ad’s basically very strong and vocal, they are saying bring back law and order. And I’m not just referring to New York, I’m referring to everything.”

Trump also claimed that he “hates” anyone who commits a crime such as rape, but that hatred could also be a key for change. 

“And I said, look this woman was raped, mugged, and thrown off a building — thrown off a building on top of everything else,” he continued. “She’s got some major problems, to put it mildly. I said, ‘of course I hate these people and let’s all hate these people because maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done.'”

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The case of so-called Central Park Five is coming to Netflix this month. The four-part series, directed by Ava DuVernay, premieres May 31. (May 23)
AP

“One-sided piece of garbage”

Trump in 2013 criticized an award-winning documentary on the Central Park jogger case. By the time the documentary came out, Reyes had already admitted to the raping and assaulting Meili.

The men who had since been exonerated for the crime were in an ongoing legal battle with New York City for how they handled the case. Richardson, Santana, and McCray sued the city in 2003.

Analysis in the documentary “The Central Park Five” suggests that authorities could have connected Reyes to Meili’s rape at the time of the attack. 

“The Central Park Five documentary was a one-sided piece of garbage that didn’t explain the.horrific crimes of these young men while in park,” Trump tweeted on April 24, 2013.

Trump in a June 5, 2013 tweet referred to the Central Park Five as “muggers.”

When asked by a Twitter user how Trump felt that the five men who were convicted of the crime were actually innocent, Trump in a tweet on June 29, 2013 responded: “Innocent of what-how many people did they mugg?”

Linda Fairstein: Central Park Five prosecutor condemns Netflix series ‘When They See Us’ on Central Park Five

More: Donald Trump’s Fourth of July bash to include speech at Lincoln Memorial, parade, flyovers

“It’s a disgrace”

After the city awarded the five men $41 million in a settlement, Trump maintained that the men — who were young teenagers when convicted — were still guilty.

Trump in an op-ed published in the New York Daily News suggested that “settling doesn’t mean innocence.”

“My opinion on the settlement of the Central Park Jogger case is that it’s a disgrace,” Trump began his op-ed. “A detective close to the case, and who has followed it since 1989, calls it “the heist of the century.”

“Forty million dollars is a lot of money for the taxpayers of New York to pay when we are already the highest taxed city and state in the country,” he continued in the op-ed. “The recipients must be laughing out loud at the stupidity of the city.”

The next day, Trump continued to tweet about the settlement.

“How much money are the lawyers for the Central Park Five getting out of the 40 million dollars, or are they paid  by the City (or both)?” Trump tweeted on June 22, 2014.

On the same day, Trump also tweeted: “I’d bet the lawyers for the Central Park 5 are laughing at the stupidity of N.Y.C. when there was such a strong case against their ‘clients'”

“They admitted they were guilty”

Around a month before the 2016 election, Trump stood by his opinion that he believed that the five men charged for Meili’s attack, who have since been exonerated from the crime, were still guilty.

“They admitted they were guilty,” Trump said in a statement to CNN in October 2016. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”

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