Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Central Park Five According To Donald Trump

   There are many problematic aspects to reality television star Donald John Trump’s presidential campaign beyond pathological lying; invitation to foreign intelligence service to hack into an independent political party’s database; refusal to release income tax returns; bullying, inciting violence; birtherism, nativism, racism and sexism. But none have been more troubling than his call to reinstitute New York’s death penalty in the wake of the infamous Central Park Five jogger case. 
   The Central Park jogger case concerned the assault, rape, and sodomy of Trisha Meili, a female jogger, and attacks on others in New York City's Central Park, on April 19, 1989. We wrote about the case over a year ago. The “mainstream” media just this past week picked up the story with renewed vigor.

   Trump took out full page ads full-page advertisements in all four major New York newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty recklessly and prematurely condemning four black - and one Hispanic - teenagers who were falsely alleged to have raped a pretty, young white woman, which invokes all manner of racist stereotypes. Melli was jogging in NYC’s Central Park. 
   Par for the course, Trump lacked any empirical evidence beyond the boys coerced confessions (which were unlawful pursuant to New York State Rules of Evidence since most were minors and, consequently, parental consent was required to question them) to support his opinion. Not one to bother with pesky little facts, Trump doubled down on the libelous claim as recently as 2013, though.
    “In 2002, Matias Reyes, another Hispanic male who had been a juvenile at the time of the attack, confessed to raping the jogger, and DNA evidence confirmed his involvement in Meili's rape, however. He also said he committed the rape alone. Reyes at the time of his confession was a convicted serial rapist and murderer, serving a life sentence. He was not prosecuted for raping Meili, because the statute of limitations had passed by the time Reyes confessed.”
    “District Attorney Robert Morgenthau suggested to the court that their convictions related to the assault and rape of Meili and the attacks on others to which they had confessed be vacated (a legal position in which the parties are treated as though no trial has taken place) and withdrew the charges. Their convictions were vacated in 2002.” 
   Trump said he wanted the criminals of every age who were accused of beating and raping a jogger in Central Park 12 days earlier to be afraid... be very afraid. The advertisement, which cost an estimated $85,000 said, in part, "Mayor [Ed] Koch has stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so. I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer ... Yes, Mayor Koch, I want to hate these murderers and I always will. ... How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told that their CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!" 
   In a 1989 interview with CNN, Trump defended the ad, saying to Larry King: "The problem with our society is the victim has absolutely no rights and the criminal has unbelievable rights" and that "maybe hate is what we need if we're gonna get something done." Lawyers for the five defendants said that Trump's advertisement had inflamed public opinion. 
   After Reyes confessed to the crime and said he acted alone, one of the defendants' lawyers, Michael W. Warren, said, "I think Donald Trump at the very least owes a real apology to this community and to the young men and their families." Protests were held outside Trump Tower in October 2002 with protestors chanting, "Trump is a chump!" Trump was unapologetic at the time, saying, "I don't mind if they picket. I like pickets." 
   The bookend to Mr. Trump hell-bent drive to the White House is the wake of destruction left in his path akin to Hurricane Matthew. Like his cartoon counterpart Mr. Magoo, Trump often seems oblivious to the harm he causes. Quincy Magoo is a wealthy, short-statured retiree who gets into a series of comical situations as a result of his nearsightedness, compounded by his stubborn refusal to admit the problem. Sound familiar? It should. And voters with an appreciation of provenance should also denying Mr. Trump another misadventure the country can ill-afford.

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