WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump doubled down on his controversial stance on the Central Park Five, a group of black and Latino teenagers who had been wrongly convicted of an assault on a white female jogger in Central Park in 1989.
Trump was asked by American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan whether he'd apologize to the accused men for taking out newspaper ads calling for their execution. All five were exonerated in 2002 after Matias Reyes confessed to raping the woman, which was backed up by DNA evidence.
At first, Trump was defensive, responding to the reporter by asking "why would you bring that question up now? it's an interesting time to bring it up."
The reporter responded that there were "movies and everything about them," referring a new Netflix TV series about the Central Park Five that has reignited controversy about the case.
"You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt," Trump said. "If you look at Linda Fairstein and if you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city should never have settled that case. So we'll leave it at that."
Trump played a role in the controversy, spending $85,000 to take out a newspaper ad calling for the teenagers' executions.
"BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY AND BRING BACK OUR POLICE," the ad said
Ava DuVernay, the director of the new Netflix series, has spoken out about Trump's part in the controversy. Although the show is a drama, DuVernay chose not to cast an actor as Trump and instead used video clips of him speaking.
For example, DuVernay opted to use a clip of Trump saying he would "love to be a well-educated black" in a television interview, with responses from the show's characters, rather than re-staging the entire scene.
"The decision was to just have him in as needed and to let him speak for himself through clips, which we use very judiciously. I found that whatever he had to say wasn't as fascinating or interesting to me as what the men had to say," DuVernay said at the beginning of June.
This is the full-page advertisement Donald Trump took out calling for the execution of the Central Park Five.— Scott Bixby (@scottbix) February 10, 2018
They were later exonerated by DNA evidence, although President Trump maintains that they are guilty. pic.twitter.com/vspZemnW93
And on Tuesday, in response to Trump's comments, The Wrap reported that DuVernay said she was unsurprised by the response, except that it took so long for Trump to say anything about it.
“There’s nothing that he says or does in relation to this case, in relation to the lives of five people of color, that really has any weight to it or truth to it,” DuVernay said at a screening of the series. “It’s not our reality, it’s not truthful. We already know this, so it’s kind of like, why do we keep banging our head against the wall about it? I’m surprised it took him so long. I was waiting every day to get a tweet.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump doesn't apologize to Central Park Five: 'You have people on both sides of that'