If you follow famed filmmaker Ava DuVernay on Twitter, you already know she’s not afraid to call out the man who occupies the Oval Office. On Monday, when Donald Trump tried to get self-righteous about where he stands on criminal justice reform, it was only fitting that the director of the upcoming When They See Us Netflix miniseries, quickly got him together.
In a tweet, Trump suggested that in comparison to a number of Democratic candidates running for the presidency, he has been progressive when it comes to criminal justice reform. He lays this out by applauding himself for the First Step Act he signed at the end of 2018 and then slamming candidates associated with the 1994 Crime Bill.
“Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected,” Trump asserts. “In particular, African Americans will not be able to vote for you. I, on the other hand, was responsible for Criminal Justice Reform, which had tremendous support, & helped fix the bad 1994 Bill!”
It’s no secret that both former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders supported the 1994 crime bill that disproportionately affected the Black community, but what DuVernay pointed out was the hypocrisy in all of it. The reason the 1994 bill happened was because of the actions of people like Trump who just five years before, in 1989, waged an all-out assault on Black and Brown men — particularly the five men who became known as “The Central Park Five.”
“The story people know is the lie that you fed them,” DuVernay refutes in her tweet. “Your violent rhetoric fed tensions that led to the bill you pretend to distance yourself from. But you can’t hide from what you did to The Central Park Five. They were innocent. And they will have the last word.”
The 13th director included a clip from her new mini-series that shows real footage of Trump telling NBC reporter Bryant Gumbel that he would “love to be a well-educated Black.” His words play into his well-documented belief that minorities get unfair advantages in society. “Getting off” for a crime was not going to be an advantage they received on his watch. Trump paid $85,000 for four full-page ads in New York’s most popular papers to demand their execution.
One could make an educated guess that if Trump was in Congress in 1994 he likely would have supported the bill that exacerbated the mass incarceration of Black men. But if speculation isn’t your thing, Trump, among a host of other problematic actions, hired former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani who remains infamous for empowering the use of stop-and-frisks which unfairly targeted Black and brown communities. In fact, Trump said in a 2016 interview that he wanted to introduce the measure on a national level. So yea, there’s that.