Two members of the Central Park Five criticized President Trump on Monday for his tweet that a “mere allegation” could ruin people’s lives without due process.
Raymond Santana, one of the men who was wrongfully convicted for a 1989 attack and rape of a jogger in Central Park, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360” that he was not surprised by Trump’s comments.
Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to lament that there is no due process for the accused in the wake of the resignations of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and speechwriter David Sorensen after allegations of domestic abuse.
Santana and Yusuf Salaam, another Central Park Five exoneree, noted Trump seemed to feel differently about due process in their case.
In 1989, Trump bought full-page ads that ran in various New York newspapers that read, “Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!”
Discussing the Central Park Five case at that time with Larry King, Trump said, “Maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done.”
Those convicted of the attack on a jogger in Manhattan’s Central Park were exonerated years later after someone else confessed to the crime.
Salaam suggested Trump’s “due process” comment highlights two different Americas.
“There are two separate Americas,” Salaam said. “One America for blacks and people of color and another America for whites and people of affluence. What he’s doing for the good old boys club, you know in his own affluenza, he’s saying, ‘Hey look, let’s not rush to judge. The guy said that he’s innocent of these particular charges. As a matter of fact he strongly said it.’ We strongly said the same thing back in 1989.”
Santana agreed with Salaam, adding that he thinks “race does play a part” in Trump’s defense of his former staffers.
“Here we were black and Latino boys who were 14 and 15 years old and he didn’t mind giving us the death penalty,” he said.
Trump has reportedly never apologized to the members of the Central Park Five. In a statement to CNN in 2016, Trump said, “They admitted they were guilty.”
“The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty,” he added. “The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”
Cooper asked the men if they wanted an apology from the President.
“I think that we’ve given up hope that Donald Trump is going to be anything other than who Donald Trump is right now,” Salaam said. “It amazes me that he still stays on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of everything, really.”
“If he had his way, we wouldn’t be here right now,” said Santana. “Our kids wouldn’t be born. We would just be whispers. … At the end of the day, we’re beyond an apology.”
Clarification: This article has been updated to better characterize the nature of the 1989 Donald Trump ads regarding the Central Park Five case and the death penalty.
Jennifer Hansler and Sophie Tatum contributed to this report.