Sharpton invokes Central Park 5 in response to Trump guilty verdict

Sharpton invokes Central Park 5 in response to Trump guilty verdict

As a New York jury found former President Trump guilty of 34 felony counts Thursday, the Rev. Al Sharpton said his thoughts were with the Central Park Five.

Trump’s trial, which began in April, took place in the same courthouse where the five Black and Brown boys were tried and wrongfully convicted of raping and murdering a white woman in 1989. A judge vacated the convictions in 2002.

“This is the same building that Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise all passed into, day after day, as they endured a show trial for a crime they did not commit,” Sharpton said in a statement.

“These children had to hear vitriol from people whose anger was incited by a man who spent a small fortune on full-page ads calling for their execution. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Donald Trump is the criminal, and those five men are exonerated. I’m reminded of Dr. King’s proverb that the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”

During the trial of the Central Park Five — today known as the Exonerated Five — Trump placed multiple full-page advertisements in New York newspapers, including The New York Times, calling for the state to reinstate capital punishment. Trump refused to apologize for his actions when a reporter confronted him in 2019.

But in February, Trump said Black voters would find him appealing for being wrongfully prosecuted as so many Black Americans have been.

Late Thursday afternoon, 12 jurors found Trump guilty on counts of falsifying business records — after less than 12 hours of deliberation.

Trump has insisted that he is a “very innocent man” and has vowed to “keep fighting.”

Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said Thursday was a “monumental step toward justice for the American people.”

“Whether it’s an attempt to steal an election or overthrow our government, one thing has long been apparent — Donald Trump is unfit to represent American democracy,” Johnson said. “The NAACP strongly believes that anyone who has been found guilty of criminal offenses of this magnitude is unfit to occupy the Oval Office. As Black Americans have been denied basic human rights due to less offensive crimes, any attempt to advance Donald Trump’s nomination for Presidency would be a gross advancement of white supremacist policy.”

But Sharpton also issued a warning Thursday, cautioning critics of Trump against “gloating” his conviction.

“What happens next is crucial. We cannot allow the hate speech that Donald Trump spewed in 1989, 2016, or 2024 to be mimicked by those who have stood against his actions,” Sharpton said. “A lot will be said about the first conviction of a former president in our nearly 250-year history. The discourse will carry on for weeks, months, and years. We cannot allow it to be guided by sore winners who gloat over this conviction, when it only stands to ignite the Donald Trumps all over this nation who still want to take us back to the pre-1964 era. Cheering this conviction with malice will only empower those who committed violence on January 6th to do it on May 31st. Instead, celebrate by casting votes for leaders who will protect democracy — not who want to kill it.”

Trump is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, just four days before the GOP convention’s start in Milwaukee, Wis.

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