American Justice: What Goes Around Can Come Around

Barry Gander
10 min readNov 14, 2023

Trump once called for Salaam’s death: now Trump is a criminal and Salaam is an elected official.

Salaam being arrested in 1989.

Back in 1989 a billionaire real estate mogul placed a full-page ad in four newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty after a woman was mugged, beaten, and raped in Central Park.

The ad has come back to mock him, as has one of the people, Yusef Salaam, falsely accused of her assault.

The process reveals an incredible story of the power of equality in American law and justice. Never perfect, but in this case it was simply stunning: the Black victim has now been elected to office and the white billionaire is going to jail (probably).

Donald Trump’s ad 34 years ago called for the death penalty, and for “respect for authority, the fear of retribution by the courts, society and the police for those who break the law.”

The accused — dubbed the ‘Central Park Five’ — were all Black and Latino men in their teens, with no power or money. The five boys were elsewhere in the park at the time, an investigation by the district attorney’s office found in 2002. They were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to prison. They later said the police had coerced them into confessing to a crime they did not commit.

According to some observers, Trump’s ads played a major role in securing a conviction of the teens, who were frequently paraded before the cameras in chains and handcuffs.

All five of the young accused men were exonerated in December 2002.

They won a $40 million judgment in 2014 against the city of New York for false convictions.

A DNA match nailed serial rapist Matias Reyes, already in prison, and he confessed to the crimes.

Trump refused to apologize for calling for the death penalty against the five.

“You have people on both sides of that,” he said at the White House. “They admitted their guilt.” (after being forced to do so, but Trump is often hazy on counter-belief facts).

When White people are convicted of hate crimes, Trump says there are “fine people on both sides.”

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Barry Gander

A Canadian from Connecticut: 2 strikes against me! I'm a top writer, looking for the Meaning under the headlines. Follow me on Mastodon @Barry