Wednesday, June 19, 2019
The Netflix production When They See Us tells the story of the young men, mostly minors, charged with the rape and attempted murder of a white woman who was jogging in central park. The defendants were males of color. It would not be a spoiler to discuss that the five men were later exonerated. Another man confessed to the crimes and his DNA matched that found at the scene.
The film shows video recordings of Donal Trump calling for the return of New York's death penalty. During the frenzy surrounding the 1989 trial, President Trump took out advertisements in several New York newspapers calling for the death penalty. The New York Times reported that in the ads Mr. Trump quoted Mayor Koch as stating "hate and rancor have no place in our hearts." ''I want to hate these muggers and murderers,'' Mr. Trump wrote. ''They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.'' The "they" of course, were people of color.
''We must not confuse tough punishment with hatred,'' Mr. Koch responded, ''I think he's on the wrong track. He has a right to express his opinion. He's expressing hatred and I'm expressing anger. There's a big difference.''
Mr. Trump has consistently refused to apologize for the ad. As recent as this week, the President not only refused to apologize but criticized New York City's settlement with the wrongly convicted men.
The past is prologue indeed.