Also called the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the bill was signed by then-President Bill Clinton, and it included new laws that would disproportionately affect Black and Brown people, as well as those in low-income communities.
On Twitter, Trump said he fixed some of the 1994 crime bill when he signed the First Step Act in December of last year. He also claimed that any Democrat running against him in the next presidential election who supported that bill won’t be able to secure the Black vote.
“Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected. In particular, African Americans will not be able to vote for you,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “I, on the other hand, was responsible for Criminal Justice Reform, which had tremendous support, & helped fix the bad 1994 Bill!”
But DuVernay, who directed the Netflix miniseries “When They See Us,” about The Central Park Five, said Trump had a lot to do with that 1994 Crime Bill being passed.
Because when four Black teens and one Hispanic teen were accused of raping a white women in New York’s Central Park in 1989, Trump took out a full-page ad in each of the four city’s major newspapers and called for the death penalty.
The five men were exonerated in 2002 after someone else confessed to the crime, which was backed up by DNA evidence.
“I don’t see anything inciteful, I am strongly in favor of the death penalty,” Trump told Larry King in 1989. “The ads 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.”
Even well after the exoneration of the Central Park Five, as the youths came to be known, Trump has insisted that they were guilty of the crime.
DuVernay reminded Trump of his position and says it helped shape the crime bill signed by Clinton. The “Selma” director also included a clip of “When They See Us,” which showed Trump in a separate interview with Bryant Gumbel.
“The story people know is the lie that you told them,” DuVernay tweeted on Monday. “Your violent rhetoric fed tensions that led to the bill you pretend to distant yourself from. But you can’t hide from what you did to The Central Park Five. They were innocent. And they will have the last word.”
“You brilliant freedom fighter, changing the world every day,” someone wrote to DuVernay on Twitter. “I love the first line of this tweet.”
“I’m so proud of the glorious way in which you wield your platform, Ava,” someone else wrote. “I feel like you go to work & slay for me, my children, their children & all those who came & sacrificed before us.”
“When They See Us” premieres on May 31.