Director Ava DuVernay: Trump contributed to 'environment' around 1994 crime bill

Director Ava DuVernay said President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE’s calls for the execution of five teens wrongly convicted in a brutal rape and assault in New York City's Central Park was “directly responsible” for a 1994 crime bill critics have blamed for increases in mass incarceration.

DuVernay's new Netflix miniseries “When They See Us” chronicles the trials and eventual exoneration of the so-called Central Park Five.


“Forward-thinking people, particularly black people who were victimized by that bill, clearly recall that in 1989, Donald Trump and his rhetoric was directly responsible for the atmosphere possible for that bill to even pass or to even propose,” DuVernay told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. 

Trump spent $85,000 on newspaper ads calling to “bring back the death penalty” for Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson and Korey Wise before their trials had begun. Archival footage of him saying he “hates” the accused teenagers is included in the DuVernay film.

All five completed their prison sentences before DNA evidence and a confession by serial rapist Mattias Reyes led New York's Supreme Court to vacate their convictions and remove them from the sex offender registry in 2002.

“All of this nonsense is a smokescreen to the actual real-world impact his racist, white supremacist views [and] his opportunistic buffoonery had at that time,” DuVernay said.

Trump has refused to apologize since the convictions were vacated, writing in a June 2014 op-ed for the New York Post that the settlement of over $40 million the five received was a “disgrace” and that they did “not exactly have the pasts of angels.” In October 2016, he said they “admitted they were guilty.”