Sharpton invokes Donald Trump's call for death penalty in the Central Park Five wrongful conviction

Larry McShane, New York Daily News on

Published in Political News

NEW YORK — In a fiery Saturday address, the Rev. Al Sharpton invoked ex-President Donald Trump’s call for the death penalty in the Central Park Five case — noting the Manhattan mogul will appear in the same courthouse where the exonerated defendants were found guilty.

Sharpton connected the dots between Trump, the 1989 arrests and the wrongful convictions of the Black youths with the one-time New Yorker’s pending Tuesday afternoon court date to face charges believed to be linked to hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels.

“I know that Donald Trump, who said Barack Obama wasn’t born here. I know that Donald Trump, that took out ads calling for the death penalty of five Black and brown boys from this community. I know on Tuesday morning he’s got to walk into that same building those five boys did,” said Sharpton at his weekly Harlem event.

The convictions of the Central Park Five were eventually vacated after all did time in prison, and they received a $41 million settlement from the city in 2014. A sixth man was later cleared in the case.

Yusef Salaam, one of the youths found guilty and imprisoned, welcomed the charges against Trump nearly full 34 years after the ads ran in New York newspapers.

“It’s karma,” the City Council candidate told The New York Daily News. “It’s poetic justice, a moment in history. It’s been a long time coming ... When that ad ran, it was like a fire-starter. It literally placed a bounty on our heads.”

Trump became the first ex-American president to face criminal charges with the indictment, even as he’s launched a campaign for the 2024 presidential election. A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll indicated the charges have given Trump a surge in support among Republican voters.

The ex-commander in chief now leads Ron DeSantis by a wide margin, with 57% of those polled opting for Trump compared to 31% for the Florida governor. The poll, conducted after the indictment, showed Trump garnering 52% of those surveyed against a wider pool of 10 potential GOP candidates.

Trump was indicted Thursday and was set for his first criminal court appearance at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday in an unhappy homecoming. Lawyers for the one-time New Yorker said Trump will enter a plea of not guilty.


The indictment has yet to be unsealed. But the 76-year-old Trump faces a reported 30 counts handed up by a Manhattan grand jury, at least one of which is reported to be a felony charge.

Trump, who still maintains a residence inside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, was expected to arrive in Manhattan on Monday, police sources said. The former commander-in-chief, as usual, will return to his hometown under protection of Secret Service agents.

Backers of the president were expected to turn out in Lower Manhattan as he surrenders to authorities. And his supporters responded to the charges by opening their checkbooks, with the Trump campaign reported more than $4 million in donations within 24 hours of his indictment.

Sharpton, to the delight of the audience, invoked lyrics from an old blues standard when addressing the upcoming court date.

“They call it Stormy Monday, but Tuesday just the same,” said Sharpton. “He’s got to go to court to answer questions about Stormy.”

Sharpton recalled how Bragg was lambasted when it appeared the investigation of Trump had ended, with two of his prosecutors quitting in protest.

“He would not be prosecuting this case, in my opinion, if he had not have more than he did a year ago,” said Sharpton. “Thirty counts, they’re saying ... You will be held accountable.”

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