Sure Seems Like Trump Still Thinks the Central Park Five Are Guilty

Photo: Alex Brandon (AP)

Nearly three decades after demanding five young people of color be put to death for a crime they didn’t commit, President Donald Trump on Tuesday refused to concede that the Central Park Five are innocent.

“You have people on both sides of that,” Trump said, echoing his defense of the Charlottesville neo-Nazis when White House reporter April Ryan asked if he would apologize to the men he publicly condemned.

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Trump continued, adamantly refusing to admit that he was wrong about the group, all of whom were exonerated by DNA evidence in the brutal assault of a jogger in Central Park after initially pleading guilty—something the group said they felt coerced into doing by New York police officers eager to settle the case.

Ryan’s question to Trump comes during a period of renewed interest in the Central Park Five fueled by filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series When They See Us. Following the series’ release, prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer stepped down from her teaching position at Columbia University after renewed backlash over her role in the case.

Trump, however, seemed entirely oblivious to the recent reexamination of the Central Park Five, asking Ryan, “Why do you bring that question up now? It’s an interesting time to bring that up.”

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Shortly before Trump was elected president in 2016, one of the men falsely accused of the crime, Yusef Salaam, spoke with CNN about what he wanted from the then-candidate.

“I keep saying to myself, ‘One day, Donald Trump is gonna perhaps take a full page ad out and apologize to the Central Park Five’” Salaam said.

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When asked if he actually expected an apology, Salaam told the network, “I doubt it’s gonna happen.”

It seems he was right.

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Rafi Schwartz

Senior writer. When in doubt he'll have the soup.