Donald Trump talks a lot about law and order, but it's not clear that he accepts the "law" part of that pairing. This week, a CNN reporter asked Trump his opinion on the Central Park Five, a group that had been convicted and subsequently exonerated for rape and a slew of other charges. Trump, who was instrumental in generating publicity and inflaming public opinion around the 1989 case, said he still did not buy the Central Park Five's innocence. But why does it matter that Trump refuses to believe the courts final decision on this case? Because it says a lot about him — and they're not good things.
As a refresher, the Central Park Five, as they came to be known, was a group of teenage boys, four black and one Hispanic, who were convicted for the rape and brutal assault of a brilliant, successful, 28-year-old white woman. The group was arrested within hours of the reported incident. Just weeks later, Trump bought full-page ads in four major newspapers suggesting that the arrested teens were guilty and that the criminals should be executed under the death penalty. His ads and the media frenzy surrounding the case exacerbated racial tensions in the midst of "New York's crack epidemic and spiraling crime rate," according to CNN.
The teens confessed, although no individual admitted to any act himself; they all pointed the finger at another in the group. Despite the odd confession and no physical evidence tying them to the crime, the group was convicted. In 2002, however, a serial rapist, whose DNA matched the DNA found on the victim, confessed to being the sole perpetrator in that crime. The Central Park Five was exonerated and granted millions in a settlement with New York City, according to the New York Times.
So back to why Trump's statements from this week are so troubling. He told CNN's Miguel Marquez:
"They admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that the case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same."
Never mind the fact there was not "so much evidence" against the group, and the investigation and confessions Trump cites were found to be full of errors and discrepancies, according to the Guardian. It just makes him look bad. Here's why:
1. It's Racist
That Trump continues to believe the guilt of four black men and one Hispanic man, all cleared by DNA evidence, proves that he is determined to make them criminals. His newspaper ads in 1989 capitalized on racial tensions by jumping to conclusions about the guilt of these men of color and suggesting they be executed for the crime. It was eerily reminiscent of earlier times, when a black man could be hanged after simply being accused of a crime against a white woman. For Trump to continue the narrative of black teens being dangerous criminals, even after the courts confirmed their innocence, is racist.
2. It Shows He's Ill-Informed
"He's not a person who takes in new information and then adjusts and accepts reality. The only reality that matters to him is his judgment," Michael D'Antonio, author of The Truth About Trump, told CNN. D'Antonio spoke with Trump after the settlement and realized that Trump could not accept the new facts. Trump called the settlement a "disgrace" and refused to become informed on the new details of the case. Clearly, this is still the case because he still believes the group is guilty.
3. It Reveals His Lack Of Faith In The American Justice System
Trump wrote an op-ed after the settlement, which he said was "politics in its lowest form" and supported the police investigation, even though some issues with the investigation had been found. Time after time, he questioned the courts and blindly supported the police. Even now, he questions judges' ability to properly do their jobs. The court made a decision in this case several years ago, and Trump still refuses to accept it.