Exonerated 5 member mocks Trump with statement after indictment

Donald Trump ran full-page advertisements calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty and improved policing after five Black boys were falsely accused of raping a white female jogger in 1989.

The tables have turned since Donald Trump ran full-page advertisements about a group of Black boys accused of a crime they didn’t commit, and one of the unjustly accused is now mocking the former president as a result of his recent indictment.

Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five published a statement on social media Wednesday that was reminiscent of Trump’s ads in several New York newspapers in 1989. According to NBC News, the ads demanded the reinstatement of the death penalty and improved policing in the city following the vicious beating and rape of Trisha Meili, a white female jogger in Central Park.

“On May 1, 1989, almost thirty-four years ago, Donald J. Trump spent $85,000 to take out full-page ads in The New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, and New York Newsday,” Salaam began his statement, NBC reported, “calling for the execution of the Central Park Five.”

Raymond Santana (left), Yusef Salaam (center) and Kevin Richardson (right), three of the five men known as the “Central Park Five,” speak at a June press conference in New York City. Salaam shared a statement on social media Wednesday criticizing Donald Trump, who took out ads in 1989 calling for the death penalty after the five were charged with a brutal crime they did not commit. (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The Central Park Five consisted of Salaam and four Black and Latino friends: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise. 

Trump’s purchase of the ads is “an act he has never apologized for,” Salaam continued, according to NBC, “even after someone else confessed to and was convicted of the crime, the convictions of all five of us were overturned, and we were renamed the Exonerated Five.”

The wrongfully convicted group of teens were freed six to 12 years later, in 2002, after Matias Reyes confessed to the crime.

On Tuesday, Trump pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in New York City, where he was charged with 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying business records.

Trump told a reporter in June 2019 that he refused to apologize to the group because “they admitted their guilt” during the trial. However, it was determined that the teens confessed to the brutal crime under pressure. 

McCray acknowledged in 2019 that he lied because his father instructed him to tell authorities what they wanted to hear.

Salaam’s one-page open letter criticized Trump’s treatment of him and his friends even after the government pardoned them for the Central Park attack. While Trump did not explicitly call for the defendants’ execution in his 1989 ads, Salaam’s message describes how Trump “continued to incite animus” toward him, his friends and their families.

Salaam continued criticizing Trump’s deeds in his message but said he trusts the legal system to find the truth. Although the Exonerated Five were denied “a presumption of innocence and a fair trial” by the twice-impeached president and the legal system, he expressed hope that Trump wouldn’t be.

Salaam reportedly tweeted “Karma” last week when it became known that Trump would be charged, and Santana did the same this week. 

“You were wrong then, and you are wrong now,” Salaam contended. Still, he added, he will not “resort to hatred, bias or racism,” NBC reported.

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!