Photo: Taylor Hill/Filmmagic
  /  10.23.2020

One day after the presidential debate caused the Central Park Five to trend, members of the group have broken their silence on President Donald Trump.

Last night (Oct. 22), POTUS and Joe Biden faced off in their final debate. When discussing social justice and criminal reform, Trump called the former vice president out for supporting the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act — which he has already admitted was a mistake. Biden retorted, mentioning the president’s treatment of the Exonerated Five — five Black and Latino teenagers who were wrongly accused of raping and beating a woman in Central Park.

“He talked about marauding gangs, young gangs — people who are going to maraud our cities,” Biden said. “This is the guy who when the Central Park Five — five innocent Black kids — he continued to push for making sure that they got the death penalty. None of them were guilty of the crimes that were suggested.”

At the time, Trump ran full-page newspaper ads that called for the group to receive the death penalty, but even after removing them, he’s failed to acknowledge their innocence.

Per USA Today, Trump called a 2013 documentary about the Exonerated Five a “one-sided piece of garbage.” A year later, when the city of New York awarded the five men a $41 million lawsuit for malicious prosecution, racial discrimination and emotional distress, he said it was “the heist of the century.” Then in 2019, after Ava Duvernay retold the group’s story in Netflix’s “When They See Us,” he refused to issue an apology to the members. “You have people on both sides of that,” Trump said. “They admitted their guilt.”

Following the debate, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana of the Exonerated Five took to social media to share their thoughts on Trump.

“To the folks that’s still undecided about whom to vote for this upcoming election… Allow me to reintroduce ourselves,” wrote Richardson. “If it was up to Trump’s idea of calling for the death penalty and putting a bounty over my brothers and I head, we wouldn’t be here today!”

Santana posted a video clip of the debate alongside the caption, “When Joe Biden calls out Donald Trump for wanting to give us the DEATH PENALTY. We were kids!! But we are still here.” Both men were 14 years old when they were tried and sentenced as adults.


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