Trump's Twitter critics pointed to his notorious view on the "Central Park Five" case and spreading the birther conspiracy theory about President Obama

By Eric Todisco
May 29, 2019 08:33 AM

President Donald Trump this week used Twitter (his favorite social media platform) to criticize former Vice President Joe Biden (one of his favorite targets) over Biden’s support of a controversial 1994 federal crime bill.

Twitter users wasted no time in criticizing Trump right back.

On Sunday Trump, 72, tried to draw a clear line separating himself from Biden, who was a major proponent of the ’94 bill that has since become anathema in many Democratic circles.

The bill included crime prevention and domestic violence funding and a ban on assault weapons, according to the New York Times. But it also allowed federal dollars to build prisons, enacted a federal “three strikes” policy for repeat offenders and made more federal crimes punishable by execution.

Controversial even when it first became law, the ’94 bill has continued to be the subject of debate.

Former President Bill Clinton, who signed the bill into law, expressed regret for its long-term effects in 2015.

“The good news is we had the biggest drop in crime in history. The bad news is we had a lot people who were locked up, who were minor actors, for way too long,” he said, according to CNN. Biden has also said there were some flaws in the bill, particularly with its drug sentences, but that it did not drive an increase in incarceration nationwide.

On Twitter Trump argued that Biden’s support for the bill, plus Trump’s support of a bipartisan effort to reform the criminal justice system, meant he should receive the support of black voters rather than Biden in next year’s election.

But Trump quickly got a wave of backlash from other Twitter users who noted his hypocrisy given his history with race.

Among the examples cited were his notorious view on the “Central Park Five” case and spreading the birther conspiracy theory about former President Barack Obama.

“President Trump is super-racist against African-Americans: housing discrimination, Central Park Five, Birtherism, attacking pregnant gold-star widow (and her congresswomen), degrading NFL players over fight for racial justice,” Economist David Rothschild replied to Trump on Twitter.

President Donald Trump
| Credit: KIYOSHI OTA/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
Former Vice President Joe Biden

Rothschild reference of “housing discrimination” referred to a federal lawsuit against Trump and his father, in 1973, accusing “Trump Management for discriminating against blacks,” according to the Times.

Trump denied the allegations and settled without admitting guilt. However, a Times investigation published in 2016 “uncovered a long history of racial bias at his family’s properties.”

Responding to Trump’s Biden attacks this week, another Twitter user brought up his history with the “Central Park Five,” when five black and Hispanic teenagers were falsely accused of raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989.

“You may have forgotten, but we New Yorkers haven’t forgotten your comments regarding the Central Park 5: ‘Maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done.’ YOU are a ‘Super Predator,’ preying on hatred and fear,” the user wrote.

Trump went as far as purchasing full-page ads in New York City newspapers that read “Bring Back The Death Penalty, Bring Back The Police.”

Discussing the case in an interview with Larry King in 1989, Trump told him, “Maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done.”

After the men were exonerated in 2002 and the true culprit confessed to the crime, Trump wrote an op-ed in the New York Daily News in 2014 where he criticized the city’s $41 million settlement with the men, calling it “a disgrace.”

“Speak to the detectives on the case and try listening to the facts,” he wrote. “These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels.”

In 2016, while campaigning for president, Trump continued to claim the five were guilty of a crime that it was proven they did not commit.

“They admitted they were guilty,” he told CNN in a statement in October 2016. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous.”

Mia Farrow was among those calling out Trump for his comments this week about race and crime.

She wrote on Twitter: “After horrifying white supremacist march and killing of a woman you said ‘there were very fine people, on both sides.’ You demanded death sentence for the Central Park Five BEFORE their trial. I dont understand who would vote for you- a racist, a criminal, a liar and a fraud.”

With characteristic hyperbole, Trump said in 2018 he was “not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you,” according to the Times.

Trump has never apologized for his comments about the five boys in the Central Park jogger case.

Their prosecution and eventual exoneration will be chronicled in the upcoming Ana DuVernay Netflix series, When They See Us.