President Donald Trump on Monday painted himself as a champion for minorities and criminal justice reform while taking a shot at former Vice President Joe Biden’s involvement in passing the 1994 Crime Bill.
“Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected. In particular, African Americans will not be able to vote for you,” tweeted the president. “I, on the other hand, was responsible for Criminal Justice Reform, which had tremendous support, and helped fix the bad 1994 Bill!”
Critics have slammed the Biden supported legislation for abetting mass incarceration that disproportionately affected black communities.
“….Super Predator was the term associated with the 1994 Crime Bill that Sleepy Joe Biden was so heavily involved in passing,” continued Trump in a second tweet. “That was a dark period in American History, but has Sleepy Joe apologized? No!”
But many critics were quick to point out Trump’s Central Park Five controversy in which he called for the death penalty of five African American and Latino teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of brutally raping a 28-year-old white woman in 1989 in New York City. Antron McCray, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam were exonerated in 2002 after DNA evidence and a confession proved they’d been wrongly convicted.
This might be a good time for a reminder that Trump spent $85,000 to place a full-page ad in the New York Times claiming that the Central Park Five were guilty despite being exonerated by DNA evidence.
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) May 27, 2019
Trump’s boasting also comes just three days before the premiere of a new Netflix miniseries about the controversy which includes video interviews Trump gave at the time.
“The story people know is the lie that you told them,” the miniseries’ director, Ava DuVernay, tweeted in response to Trump. “Your violent rhetoric fed tensions that led to the bill you pretend to distant yourself from.”
The story people know is the lie that you told them. Your violent rhetoric fed tensions that led to the bill you pretend to distant yourself from. But you can’t hide from what you did to The Central Park Five. They were innocent. And they will have the last word. #WhenTheySeeUs https://t.co/M0hkcnpt0Y pic.twitter.com/gbOIvSW1ou
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 28, 2019
The director also tweeted a clip from her new Netflix miniseries, “When They See Us,” which shows then-real estate developer Trump telling NBC’s Bryant Gumbel in 1989 that he would “love to be a well-educated black,” suggesting he thought they had advantages in society.
The HuffPost adds:
Then Marsha Stephanie Blake, who in the miniseries portrays Linda McCray, the mother of one of the accused teens, references Trump’s role in amplifying racial tensions, hate and hysteria surrounding the case.
“They want to kill my son,” Blake’s character says in the clip of “When They See Us.” “That devil, that devil wants to kill my son.”
In 1989, Trump purchased full-page ads that ran in several New York newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty weeks after the attack on the jogger and before the boys ever went to trial.
Although the ads didn’t mention the teenagers by name, it was known that Trump was referencing them in the ads, which ran under the headline, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!”
Donald Trump paid $85,000 to take out full-page ads in four of New York's most popular papers to demand their execution. pic.twitter.com/IMQ2gW4eCB
— Morten Øverbye (@morten) May 27, 2019
In a 2016 op-ed for The Washington Post, Yusef Salaam wrote that while the teens endured public vilification at the time, “no one took it further than Trump.”
“Trump has never apologized for calling for our deaths,” he wrote.