A recently released Netflix series about the Central Park Five brings attention to Donald Trump’s controversial role in pushing for the death penalty in 1989. That push came after group of five teenagers were accused and wrongfully convicted of beating and raping a woman in New York City.
The new series, “When They See Us,” highlights the police and prosecutorial abuse experienced by the teens in the case, along with the struggles they face as adults. The series includes a reference to Trump’s comments about the case.
In an interview with Larry King in 1989 from CNN’s archives, Trump, then a real estate and business mogul, defended his purchasing of full-page ads that ran in several New York City newspapers that read in all caps,”BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!”
“I don’t see anything inciteful, I am strongly in favor of the death penalty,” Trump told King. “I am also in favor of bringing back police forces that can do something instead of just turning their back because every quality lawyer that represents people that are trouble said the first thing they do is start shouting police brutality, etc.”
Trump also told King that when he was asked by a reporter about his views toward the five teenage boys, he responded, “‘Of course I hate these people and let’s all hate these people because maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done.'”
The group of five teenagers of color were later exonerated in 2002, after another man confessed to the crime and DNA evidence backed up his confession.
In October 2016, then-candidate Trump stood by his actions during the time of the case, telling CNN, “They admitted they were guilty.”
The teenagers initially confessed to the crime, but later recanted saying that they were coerced.
In 2014, Trump wrote in an op-ed in the New York Daily News that New York City’s $41 million settlement with the five men was “a disgrace.”