Here we go again.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday refused to apologize for his role in raising public fury against the now-exonerated Central Park Five, repeating his infamous phrasing that there were people on “both sides” of the case.
April Ryan, White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks, asked Trump if he would apologize for the full-page ads he took out in 1989 calling for the five black and Latino teenagers to face the death penalty for allegedly raping a woman in Central Park.
“You have people on both sides of that,” Trump responded. “They admitted their guilt.”
Despite telling the court that their confessions had been coerced by law enforcement, the teenagers spent six to 13 years in prison for the crime. In 2002, DNA evidence found that a convicted serial rapist had been responsible, and the Central Park Five were exonerated. The city of New York made a $41 million dollar settlement with the men for the ordeal, and the case has largely been seen as an indictment of institutional racism in the criminal justice system.
“If you look at Linda Fairstein and if you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city should never have settled that case,” Trump told Ryan. “So we’ll leave it at that.”
Trump defended the ads in 2016, saying that “They admitted they were guilty.”
Trump first infamously deployed his “both sides” rhetoric in the aftermath of the Charlottesville, Virginia white nationalist rally, where a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of people, killing a counter-protester. A few days after the rally, Trump told reporters there were “very fine people on both sides” of the rally. As recently as April, Trump was still defending his comments.
Trump when asked about his full page ad against the now-acquitted Central Park Five: "You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt." pic.twitter.com/DiJPeqJbGC
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) June 18, 2019