Donald Trump used his Twitter account on Sunday to attack the five men convicted — and later exonerated — in the Central Park Jogger case in 1989.
The five men, who were teenagers at the time of the attack on a 28-year-old investment banker, Trisha Meili, who was running in New York’s Central Park, initially confessed to the crime without their parents present, but later recanted, saying they were coerced into the confessions by police.
The convictions of Antron McCray, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Yusuf Salaam, and Raymond Santana were vacated in 2002 when another man’s confession was corroborated by DNA evidence. Their ordeal is the subject of a new PBS documentary by Ken Burns, The Central Park Five.
New York has yet to settle a $250 million lawsuit filed by the men over their six-to-thirteen-year incarcerations for a crime they didn’t commit.
Trump financed anti-Central Park Five ad
At the height of the criminal investigation and trial, Donald Trump took out full page newspaper ads calling for New York State to bring back the death penalty so that the five teens could be executed.
Trump may have forgotten that history when he tweeted this week in reaction to the arrest of one of the two alleged Boston Marathon bombers, saying: “Didn’t the boston killer even run over his own brother with a car in order to get away? We are not dealing with an innocent baby here-DEATH.”
The tweet drew a response from a high school coach, who reminded Trump of his untoward calls for death back in 1989, saying, “With all due respect, after your rant about the Central Park Five, perhaps you should keep law and order comments to yourself.”
Never one to leave a comment un-responded to, Trump tweeted back: “Tell me, what were they doing in the Park, playing checkers?”
Of course, the answer to that question is that the Central Park Five were doing what many other teens were doing in the park: hanging out. What they were not doing, as confirmed 30 years too late by New York prosecutors, was committing gang rape.
Trump later deleted the tweet, according to the website Wonkette, which screen captured the Twitter exchange.
Follow Joy Reid on Twitter at @thereidreport.