One of the five men who was falsely convicted in the so-called Central Park Five case slammed President Donald Trump for his vicious 1989 attack ads during a Friday event at which the group received a courage award.
Trump infamously took out full-page ads in New York City newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in conjunction with the arrests of the five teenagers accused of the brutal rape of a white female jogger in Central Park three decades ago. The case is now seen as an example of racial injustice within the U.S. legal system, but Trump has never apologized.
Quoting Korey Wise, another member of the Central Park Five, Yusef Salaam told the room: “Korey said it so well. He said, when Donald Trump took out that full-page ad, and put them in all of New York City’s newspapers, calling for our execution, he placed a bounty on our head.”
“They had published our names, our phone numbers, and our addresses in New York City’s newspapers. Imagine the horror of that,” Salaam added.
The black and Hispanic teens were exonerated in 2002, when another man confessed to the crime and DNA evidence linked him to it. The 28-year-old victim who was left for dead in a Central Park bush had had no memory of the assault.
The Central Park Five have received renewed attention thanks to “When They See Us,” director Ava DuVernay’s recently released Netflix miniseries about the case.
Salaam, Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Antron McCray ― all in their mid-40s ― were honored with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California’s inaugural Roger Baldwin Courage Award at the group’s 25th Annual Luncheon.
They were introduced by actor Michael B. Jordan, who said he admired the men for how strongly they maintained their innocence over the years, The Associated Press reported.
In 2014, the five men were granted about $40 million in a settlement with New York City for their arrests and imprisonment.
Amid a renewed backlash over the city’s handling of the case sparked by the new miniseries, one of its prosecutors, Linda Fairstein ― who has become a crime novelist ― was dropped by her publisher.
The Penguin Random House imprint Dutton confirmed to the BBC on Friday that it ended its relationship with Fairstein, formerly Manhattan’s top sexual crimes prosecutor.
She has already stepped down from the boards of a nonprofit organization and of Vassar College.