Donald Trump spends $85,000 on full page ads in all four of New York City’s major newspapers, calling for the execution of the “Central Park Five,” five black and Latino schoolboys falsely accused of rape and battery.
The boys, all under 16 years old, confessed to the violence and brutality after being coerced by police. Despite their age, Trump’s ad calls for the death penalty. Some New Yorkers who read the ad begin sending death threats to family members of the young men.
Twelve years later, a serial rapist confesses to the crime, and his DNA matches evidence collected at the scene. Trump responds that year (2002), saying, “Who am I supposed to believe?” In 2016, Trump says he has no regrets about his 1989 ad.
Read the full ad below.
BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!
What has happened to our City over the past ten years? What has happened to law and order, to the neighborhood cop we all trusted to safeguard our homes and families, the cop who had the power under the law to help us in times of danger, keep us safe from those who would prey on innocent lives to fulfill some distorted inner need. What has happened to the respect for authority, the fear of retribution by the courts, society and the police for those who break the law, who wantonly trespass on the rights of others? What has happened is the complete breakdown of life as we knew it.
Many New York families — White, Black, Hispanic and Asian — have had to give up the pleasure of a leisurely stroll in the Park at dusk, the Saturday visit to the playground with their families, the bike ride at dawn, or just sitting on their stoops — given them up as hostages to a world ruled by the law of the streets, as roving bands of wild criminals roam our neighborhoods, dispensing their own vicious brand of twisted hatred on whomever they encounter. At what point did we cross the line from the fine and noble pursuit of genuine civil liberties to the reckless and dangerously permissive atmosphere which allows criminals of every age to beat and rape a helpless woman and then laugh at her family’s anguish? And why do they laugh? They laugh because they know that soon, very soon, they will be returned to the streets to rape and maim and kill once again — and yet face no great personal risk to themselves.
Mayor Koch has stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so. I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence. Yes, Mayor Koch, I want to hate these murderers and I always will. I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them. If the punishment is strong, the attacks on innocent people will stop. I recently watched a newscast trying to explain the “anger in these young men.” I no longer want to understand their anger. I want them to understand our anger. I want them to be afraid.
How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told that their CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!
When I was young, I sat in a diner with my father and witnessed two young bullies cursing and threatening a very frightened waitress. Two cops rushed in, lifted up the thugs and threw them out the door, warning them never to cause trouble again. I miss the feeling of security New York’s finest once gave to the citizens of this City.
Let our politicians give back our police department’s power to keep us safe. Unshackle them from the constant chant of “police brutality” which every petty criminal hurls immediately at an officer who has just risked his or her life to save another’s. We must cease our continuous pandering to the criminal population of this City. Give New York back to the citizens who have earned the right to be New Yorkers. Send a message loud and clear to those who would murder our citizens and terrorize New York — BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY AND BRING BACK OUR POLICE!
New York Times 1989 (Archived)
New York Times 2002 (Archived)