We Will Never Forget What Trump Did to the Central Park Five
On April 19, 1989, a serial rapist brutally attacked and raped Trisha Meili in New York City’s Central Park at around 9:15 p.m.
The rapist was Matias Reyes. But the police violently arrested and maliciously coerced five other teenagers to confess to the attack and rape. Despite no DNA evidence and inconsistent confessions that can only come from coercion, a jury convicted the teens.
The five teenagers at the time — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr., and Korey Wise — had their names recklessly ruined. Unlike Nick Sandmann of Covington High School, the Central Park Five didn’t have a powerful PR team to rebuke the media and change the narrative.
Instead, the Central Park Five had their years snatched forever. The sentences for Richardson and Wise came from a court in January 1991. And the sentences for McCray, Salaam, and Santana came from a court on September 11, 1990.
We should always remember that individuals and communities had their own personal 9/11 before and after America’s 9/11. Individuals and communities still have them, and those tragic days come from terrorists too.
Donald Trump is a terrorist.
Trump isn’t just a bully, he’s a terrorist. He’s not just rude, he’s a terrorist. He’s an advocate and practitioner of terror for coercion. I’m not the first to say it, and it’s not an exaggeration.
Donald Trump racistly terrorized the Central Park Five. In a 2016 interview with Mother Jones, Yusef Salaam said Trump was “the fire starter” who manipulated people into believing they were guilty which led to more death threats.
Donald Trump is a white mob boss. Before his rally cry of “Lock Her Up” and “Lock Them Up,” Trump wanted to cage and kill five teenagers. After their arrests, Trump gave reporters this sound bite — “Maybe hate is what we need if we’re going to get something done.”
It’s no surprise, Trump did something hateful. He spent $85,000 on large ads in four New York City newspapers demanding the death penalty and the return of the police in force. What Trump spent on attack ads was way more than the Central Park Five had for their bail and defense.
Does anyone believe the person who robbed his foundation also spent $85,000 out of the goodness of his heart? Trump invests in the demonization of Black and Brown people.
The title of his ad says it all — “Bring Back the Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!”
Every word in the title is Trump’s MAGA campaign. His double “Bring Back” is a call to the past. “The Death Penalty” is a call for mob violence that targets Black and Brown people. And “Our Police” are the words of someone who knows law enforcement is their possession and expects their pledges of loyalty.
The ad ran on May 1, 1989. Mayday, May Day. Was the date a harbinger of how Trump would send distress signals and cry wolf to the white working class?
For certain, it was a racist rush to judgment with no concern for responsibility. The racism of white victimhood prompted the ad. And it played to the white racism of white New Yorkers.
Trump claimed he received 15,000 letters of support in a week and a half for his ad with only a few negative letters. He told Larry King he had 90% of the public’s support.
Both now and then, Trump is a proven liar. But there’s no doubt he spoke and wrote for the masses of white New Yorkers. With the Central Park Five, Donald Trump honed his racist message for the white public he would later use in his presidential campaign.
Trump uses the same tactics against the same targets.
We can’t forget that the Central Park Five are four Black men, one of whom is Muslim, and one Hispanic man of Afro-Puerto Rican heritage. They represent the same groups Trump used and abused to build his racist and xenophobic presidential campaign.
Today, Trump supporters are the white New Yorkers of 1989; the white media is running Trump’s attack ads, and Trump has labeled Mexico, Central America, and Muslims the Central Park Five.
Every time Trump calls a human being an animal — he’s reciting white America’s racist language for Black people and specifically for the Central Park Five.
Every time Trump selectively gets outraged over a terror attack by a Brown person — it’s the same double standard of selective outrage in his ad against the Central Park Five.
Every time Trump insists on lies about Muslims and Brown immigrants — it’s the same refusal to see the evidence, and it’s the racist fearmongering he used against the Central Park Five.
Facts and hypocrisy mean nothing to Trump.
In 2002, a judge exonerated the Central Park Five. Trump still says they’re guilty, and he’s never apologized. He’s a man who calls a semblance of justice a disgrace, and an obvious injustice a semblance of justice.
The man who cried over Brett Kavanaugh and the dangerous time in America for men is the man who can’t say he was wrong about the Central Park Five.
The man who doesn’t believe in the DNA exoneration of the Central Park Five believes in his total exoneration in the Mueller Report.
The same person with the power to pardon is the same person who tried to kill innocent kids in 1989.
And the same person who was hateful and angry about the attack and rape of Trisha Meili is the same person we heard bragging about his sexual assaults on women.
Donald Trump has at least 23 sexual assault allegations pinned to him going back to the 1970s. In the same year Trump took out his ad against the Central Park Five, his wife Ivana accused him of violence and rape.
The hate and hypocrisy, which add up to racism and other forms of oppression, are central to Trump and his MAGA mantra.
We will never forget.
In a 2012 documentary about the Central Park Five, Korey Wise says he can never forget what happened to him. We shouldn’t either. We must remember all the victims and all the villains. The question is, what do we do with our memories?
I suggest we never lose them and we always use them. Ava DuVernay will use them, starting May 31, 2019, on Netflix. Don’t snooze. Make the views huge!