A filmmaker whose latest high-profile project has rekindled an old controversy opened up after Donald Trump weighed in.
With Ava DuVernay’s Netflix miniseries “When They See Us” shining a new light on the wrongful convictions of the Central Park Five in connection with the 1989 rape and assault of Trisha Meili, Trump indicated this week that he stands by his long-held belief that the men are guilty. Trump famously took out full-page ads in newspapers at the time calling for the executions of the five teenagers.
The Los Angeles Times quotes Trump telling reporters Tuesday at the White House: “You have people on both sides of that — 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.”
DuVernay responded later Tuesday at a Women in Entertainment and Writers Guild of America West screening in Hollywood. “It’s expected,” she said. “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.”
DuVernay’s project details the wrongful conviction and eventual exoneration of the men in the high-profile criminal case. All five men are free today.
“DuVernay — who created the limited series, and directed all four parts — made the comments in response to Trump’s remarks earlier Tuesday, in which he refused to admit their innocence, or to apologize for placing full-page ads in four newspapers at the time that called for the executions of five teenagers of color: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise,” The Times reports.
When DuVernay was asked Tuesday night by moderator Jemele Hill about the Trump comments, she initially responded: “I’m surprised it took so long, I was waiting every day to get a tweet!” The Times reports that DuVernay also noted that with the men free today, the focus should be on “so much more than rage-tweeting back and participating in the negativity that’s so unproductive.”
Following their convictions in the 1989 case, the men were exonerated in 2002 and reached a settlement with the city of New York in 2014.