To the surprise of no one, especially acclaimed director Ava DuVernay, Donald Trump has doubled down on his stance against the Central Park Five, now known as the Exonerated Five.
White House reporter April Ryan recently asked the president if he would apologize to the five men, then teens, whom he called “wild criminals” in a 1989 ad calling for the return of the death penalty in New York.
“You have people on both sides of that,” Trump responded Wednesday. “They admitted their guilt. If you look at [prosecutor] Linda Fairstein and if you look at some of the prosecutors, they think the city should have never settled that case. So we’ll leave it at that.”
His remarks did not come as a surprise to DuVernay, whose recent Netflix series, When They See Us, tells the story of the five men and their case.
Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Antron McCray served six to 13 years for the rape and assault of Trish Meili. They were later exonerated when serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes confessed to the assault, with DNA evidence corroborating his story. They received a $41 million settlement from New York City in 2014 for their wrongful conviction.
“It’s expected,” she told the Los Angeles Times after a Women in Entertainment and Writers Guild of America West panel in Hollywood. “There’s nothing he says or does in relation to this case or the lives of Black people or people of color that has any weight to it. It’s not our reality; there’s no truth to it.”
“I’m surprised it took so long, I was waiting every day to get a tweet,” DuVernay told moderator Jemele Hill during the panel when asked about Trump. “I wish I had a more juicy sound bite, but I don’t care.”
When They See Us became Netflix’s most watched series since it premiered on May 31.