President Donald Trump kicked off his re-election campaign with a MAGA rally in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday. Before he departed for Florida, he took questions from reporters.
One of the reporters, White House correspondent April Ryan, asked the president if he would apologize to the "Central Park five" for calling for their executions.
Trump was confused by Ryan's question. "Why do you bring that question up now?" he asked her. He was apparently unaware that he appears in a new Netflix film "When They See Us" in which he called for the death penalty for the teenagers.
"You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt," Trump replied, referring to the forced confessions from the Black and Latino males, who were then ages 14-16.
The five boys from Harlem recanted their confessions at trial, but they were convicted of raping and assaulting the then-28-year-old female jogger in Central Park in 1989. Their convictions were later overturned after another man confessed to the rape and assault.
The five men - Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise - received a $40 million settlement for wrongful conviction in 2014.
Trump was outraged over the settlement. He took out full page ads in four NY newspapers, calling for the return of the death penalty, saying that "criminals of every age" who raped the woman in Central park should "be afraid."
It isn't clear if Trump knew that the four men were exonerated by DNA tests that proved they did not rape the jogger.
In an op-ed published in the New York Daily News in 2014, Trump called the settlement a "disgrace."
"My opinion on the settlement of the Central Park Jogger case is that it's a disgrace. A detective close to the case, and who has followed it since 1989, calls it "the heist of the century."
Settling doesn't mean innocence, but it indicates incompetence on several levels. This case has not been dormant, and many people have asked why it took so long to settle? It is politics at its lowest and worst form."
Trump has not changed his opinion on the subject of the Central Park 5 in three decades. "These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels," Trump said in 2014.
Last year, TheGrio.com reported that Trump tweeted, then deleted, the question: "what were the men doing in the park, playing checkers?"
Trump refuses to apologize now even if it means his stance will continue to alienate the Black community.
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