Trump vs. Central Park 5: The Long Saga Trump Can’t Let Go

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After five teenagers were found guilty of raping a jogger in Central Park in April 1989, Donald Trump called for the death penalty: “Bring Back the Death Penalty! Bring Back Our Police!” was the headline of full-page advertisements that ran in four New York newspapers, including the New York Times after the group, known as the Central Park 5, were convicted. All five were exonerated in 2002 after another man, Matias Reyes, confessed to the crime (and his DNA was found on the victim).

Trump, 27 years after the crime and 14 years after the wrongly convicted men were exonerated, won’t concede defeat. “They admitted they were guilty,” Trump said recently in a statement to CNN’s Miguel Marquez. “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.”

Aside from the fact that the Central Park 5 were coerced and under extreme duress, according to their accounts, when they confessed to the attack in 1989, Trump is incorrect. There was hardly any actual evidence against them. No witnesses. No DNA evidence, since forensic technology was nascent at the time. But Trump still cannot let the case go. Perhaps his denial is aimed at fueling those in his base who support his “law and order” stance. Perhaps its a personal vendetta he can’t seem to cut loose. But for those in the Central Park 5, Trump’s recent remarks have reopened old wounds.

In an editorial in the Washington Post on Wednesday, Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park 5, describes the fresh fear he feels now that Trump is bringing the case back to the public’s attention.

“When we hear that he is going to be a ‘law and order president,’ a collective chill goes down the spine of those of us who have been the victims of this ‘law and order,'” Salaam writes. Later in the op-ed, he says: “It’s further proof of his bias, racism and inability to admit that he’s wrong,” adding, “I am overwhelmed with a nagging fear that an overzealous Trump supporter might take matters into his or her hands.”

Alec Siegel
Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. When he’s not working at Law Street he’s either cooking a mediocre tofu dish or enjoying a run in the woods. His passions include: gooey chocolate chips, black coffee, mountains, the Animal Kingdom in general, and John Lennon. Baklava is his achilles heel. Contact Alec at ASiegel@LawStreetMedia.com.



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