25 Jun 19
The Irish Sun
WHEN Donald Trump demanded that five boys of colour be executed following the brutal rape of a jogger, he was feeding from and into New Yorkers’ fears.
Trisha Meili was attacked and left for dead in Central Park in April 1989, a high profile victim of serious crime in a dangerous city on the brink of chaos.
US President Donald Trump
Netflix show When They See US
New York felt under siege, and the Manhattan elite looked north to the streets above 110th with trepidation.
People demanded justice for the 28-year-old banker, and appeared to get it when Harlem teenagers Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise were swiftly rounded up and charged.
They were part of a disparate group “wilding” or running amok in the park, in and around the same time as the woman was attacked.
Trump’s full page ads in New York newspapers before the case even headed to trial were as subtle as his tweets would later be as president.
They read: “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE”.
At just $85,000, it was some of the easiest money the publicity-hungry real estate tycoon would spend.
The adverts — not specifically about the boys, though ostensibly so — were met with approval largely from the city’s middle and upper classes fed up with roaming gangs of blacks and Latinos.
Who doesn’t want murderers to be afraid?
Hang ’em all, they were saying.
The one small problem with the Central Park Five is that they were all innocent, and very obviously so.
Where the case lacked forensic or physical evidence linking them to the crime, it had plenty by way of forced confessions.
They were stitched up by a system which needed a scapegoat, and they paid the price with their childhoods.
They were coerced, beaten and intimidated into confessions and few outside their communities believed the system capable of such a stitch up.
Few in law enforcement saw fit to ask any questions outside the remit — which was to get those boys into a court.
It was not until 2002 when a convicted rapist and murderer came forward to admit to the crime that the five boys — now men — were then exonerated.
The Netflix series When They See Us has forced the now President Trump to address his adverts, and his rush to stick five kids on an electric chair.
His ads were calculated, as was everything he did, to garner maximum exposure for Brand Trump.
He played the media game from the very beginning of his meteoric rise from rich kid to stinking rich adult, and played it better than anyone else.
Long before he ran for office he wanted to be adored by his people, and tapping into the terror was just another part of that game.
In 1986 he renovated the ice skating rink in Central Park as a two-fingers to Mayor Ed Koch, whom he hated almost as much as the current mayor Bill de Blasio (who, coincidentally was in the job when the city settled with the five men in 2014 for $41million).
For a man who wanted to be at the very centre of attention, it was a triumph.
And now 30 years later, despite the exoneration, the DNA evidence, the confession, and the damages, President Trump is not for turning.
“They admitted their guilt,” he said a few days ago, preferring to stick to the narrative designed by discredited prosecutor Linda Fairstein.
This response, almost as much as the acclaimed four-part series, has brought the case of the Central Park Five hurtling into 2019.
The most powerful man in the world has no interest in real justice, only his own definition of the word.
His mind was made up in 1989, and no amount of truth is going to dissuade him.
Millions of New Yorkers rushed to judgment too, which is natural when seeking justice for the innocent victim of a vicious crime.
A lot of them have most likely changed their minds on the basis of the facts as they later unfolded.
If Trump won’t be swayed by facts in a rape case, he can’t reasonably be expected to make informed decisions on anything from climate change to health care.
The man’s world view was shaped in the 1970s and 1980s at the expense of any developments or evolution in thinking since then.
When They See Us is chock-a-block with villains, including Fairstein, who was determined to see them go to jail for the same reason Trump wanted them dead.
Someone had to pay because the city was afraid.
Of course, Ireland’s own history is pockmarked with injustices of all hues.
Having the humility to acknowledge those wrongs is the mark of our maturity as a nation — a maturity not shared by far more influential figures than we will ever possess.
THERE IS NO TEAM TO TEST THE DUBS
STANDING on Hill 16 in Croker on Sunday, I was willing Meath to do something.
In fairness to the Royals, they gave it their best and if they even had two forwards worthy of the name they might have made a decent impression.
Dublin’s Paul Mannion in action against Seamus Lavin of Meath during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Final
But in my desire to see us tested, I was imploring Meath’s players to improve their support play, or lump in a few missiles to test our defence.
That is not how we should feel while watching sport, gently encouraging our rivals in the hope that something of note will happen on the pitch.
Dublin effortlessly moved through the gears to claim #9.
People talk about money — cash did play a big part in getting the school and club set-ups right — but while it helped get the house in order, money is not the only reason why Dublin are so far ahead of everyone else.
This group of players are extraordinary, and many of their rivals barely reach ordinary.
DOMESTIC ISSUE FOR BOJO & UK
THAT Boris Johnson even stands a chance of becoming the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom would beggar belief if the old rules applied.
But they don’t, and this oaf (who has anarchists outside his door) will soon have the keys to Number 10 unless something dramatic happens in the race.
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds
He’s refusing to talk about last weekend’s domestic disturbance at his lover Carrie Symonds’ flat, an episode which in days gone by would have finished him.
The EU has made a show of the Brits, toying with them like a cat would with an exhausted mouse.
While the mice bicker, the cat is just waiting to put them out of their misery.
YOU STILL WATCHING THIS, BIG BROTHER?
I WAS living very briefly over in London when Big Brother first exploded on to the scene in 2000 and threatened to take over the world.
Nasty Nick and Anna Nolan, the former nun, competed with Liverpudlian Craig and others who were superstars for a summer before fading back into obscurity.
Longford woman Maura Higgins stars on the show
I thought it was genius.
But I was very, very wrong. Big Brother was just the beginning of the reality onslaught that would wreck telly for decades to come.
Love Island is the latest big ticket item and has made a champ out of Co Longford woman Maura Higgins and chumps out of audiences.
Fair play to Maura, and I hope she makes her millions, but it’s a sad indictment of our TV that this is the show everyone is talking about.
[boxout headline=”MURPHY ALLOWED FLOODGATES TO OPEN” featured-image=”4253144″]WHEN the imminent co-living developments disintegrate over time into a big social headache, make sure to remember the name of Eoghan Murphy.
The rather clueless Housing Minister, right, is the man who has allowed the floodgates to open, and the trickle will soon become a deluge.
One company plans to bring 5,000 beds to Dublin over the next five years.
So that would mean 5,000 people living in each other’s ears for premium rents (20 per cent cheaper than standard studio flats apparently).
There has been talk of €1,300 a month to live in one of these developments. In Tallaght, south Co Dublin, An Bord Pleanala refused one application, ruling co-living would “fail to provide an acceptable living environment”.
But Murph is happy.
Somehow, a narrative has been constructed that equates co-living with modern living, when in reality it’s a case of asking people to share a kitchen with dozens of strangers.
It’s a horror story waiting to unfold and Murphy — who warned that people will have to sacrifice space, privacy and peace to live in the future — amended the guidelines to allow this to happen.
Watch this space.[/boxout]
CHAMP OF THE WEEK
MANUS KELLY seems to have touched many lives, and the Donegal community where the rally driver lived and worked are in mourning following his untimely death at 41.
He leaves behind five young kids and, by all accounts, the respect and admiration of many.
Manus Kelly passed away on Sunday
CHUMP OF THE WEEK
BORIS JOHNSON and CARRIE SYMONDS, who were “seen together for the first time” since news of the domestic incident broke “looking smitten” and “very much in love” in the idyllic Sussex countryside.
Just as well that snapper was there.
I WAS SHAFTED ON MY COMMUNION DAY
MANY years ago, I walked into my grandad’s shop in my Communion finest, beaming from ear to ear.
He asks: “So, what did you make today?”
And I says to him: “Fourteen pound so far.”
[article-rail-section title=”MOST READ IN NEWS” posts_category=”5″ posts_number=”6″ query_type=”popular” /]
Of course he meant the ceremony and not the cash, but I only had eyes for the punts.
One in ten Irish kids trouser more than a grand now, and experts fear they are mad for the cash.
I eventually got up to £59 in 1988 — the equivalent of around €140 today. I was shafted!