Trump Still Thinks Central Park Five Are Guilty Despite DNA Evidence, Exoneration Proving Otherwise

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Donald Trump (left) and the Central Park Five (right). Photo by Michael Nagle/The New York Times
Donald Trump (left) and the Central Park Five (right). Photo by Michael Nagle/The New York Times

Fourteen years after being exonerated for a crime they didn’t commit, right-wing presidential candidate Donald Trump insists on running a smear campaign against the proven innocence of the Central Park Five. The five men, four Black and one Hispanic, were wrongfully convicted and jailed for the 1989 beating and rape of a white woman as she jogged in New York’s Central Park.

This week, Trump maintained that the five men were guilty, despite having been cleared of any wrongdoing.

“They admitted they were guilty,” the Republican candidate said 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.”

The men, who were just teenagers at the time, initially confessed to the heinous crime but later said authorities coerced their confession and deprived them of food and water. Not long after the boys’ arrests, Trump took out four full-page ads in each of New York City’s daily newspapers, calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty, Fusion reports.

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

However, in 2002, serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes confessed to the brutal assault. Reyes’ DNA also matched evidence found at the crime scene.

The Central Park Five, who each spent between six and 13 years in prison, were finally exonerated later that year. In June 2014,the New York Times reported that a U.S. federal judge approved a $41 million settlement to resolve the bitter lawsuit over the men’s wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

Trump continued to challenge the mens’ innocence, calling their multi-million dollar settlement a “disgrace.”

“I kind of feel sorry for him,” said Raymond Santana, one of the Central Park Five, of Trump’s comments. Santana went on to call the real-estate tycoon’s insensitive remarks a “pathetic” attempt to get attention. He even clapped back at Trump over Twitter.

Now Yusef Salaam, another one of the Central Park Five, says he wants an apology from the presidential 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 told CNN’s New Day. “That would be tremendous.”

Trump has never issued an apology to the five men, and considering his recent remarks on the matter, he has no plans to. Salaam recently expressed grave concern over the idea of a Trump presidency.

“To see that he has not changed his position of being a hateful person … what would this country look like with Donald Trump being the president?” Salaam told The Guardian earlier this year. “I can’t even imagine.”

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