(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump called for the return of the death penalty in a series of ads in 1989 amid the case of the “Central Park Five” – five Black and brown boys wrongfully accused of rape and assault in New York City.
More than 30 years later, some of the now-exonerated men say the former president’s indictment is “karma.”
The case known as the “Central Park Five” began on April 19, 1989, when jogger Trisha Meili was raped, brutally beaten and left for dead in the park. She survived and testified, but did not remember her assault.
Five Black and Latino teens — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise — were taken into custody, hounded in police interrogations and ultimately gave false confessions.
Trump took out full page ads in local newspapers days after the attack, calling to “Bring back the death penalty. Bring back our police!” The ads never explicitly call for the death penalty against the then-dubbed “Central Park Five.”
The five were wrongfully convicted of various crimes, but their convictions were vacated in 2002 following a confession from a different man whose admission was affirmed by DNA evidence. Following a settlement between New York City and the five men, Trump said the city should not have settled with the Central Park Five and continued to rail against the men, according to an op-ed he wrote in the Daily News at the time.
In response to Trump’s arraignment, Salaam released a statement on Tuesdsay in the format of Trump’s full-page 1980s ads:
Santana, one of the now-“Exonerated Five,” criticized those who support Trump on Monday, and asked his social media followers to “never forget” Trump’s actions against the five men: “#Neverforget … because we never had a chance to,” said Santana in an Instagram post.
Salaam also spoke on MSNBC last week about Trump’s indictment and the failings of the justice system in the past.
“For someone to say that ‘if they could do it to Trump, they could do it to anyone,’ — they do it to black and brown people all the time,” said Saalam. “The fact that Black and brown people are in prison, have been there for crimes they haven’t commit, like myself, is … a travesty of justice. And the truth of the matter is that we need this legal system to work and I’m excited to see what will happen on Tuesday.”
Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records on Tuesday after being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury last week.
ABC News’ Nakylah Carter contributed to this report.
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