Donald Trump And Park 51: You’re Fired!

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[Speaking Truth To Power]

Donald Trump Rears His Head Again

For weeks now, political parasites and opportunists have used the proposed Park 51 Center --which will include an Islamic prayer center-- as an incendiary issue to score political points and for public relations purposes.
Add Donald Trump to that list.

Trump proposed buying off the shares of an investor in the building at 45-47 Park Place, the location of an old Burlington Coat Factory outlet. Soho Properties owns the site.

In a letter, released by his publicist to Soho Properties investor Hisham Elzanaty, Trump states: “Please let this letter serve to represent my offer to purchase your site located at 45 Park Place, New York, NY 10007, for what you paid plus 25%. I am making this offer as a resident of New York and citizen of the United States, not because I think the location is a spectacular one (because it is not), but because it will end a very serious, inflammatory, and highly divisive situation that is destined in my opinion to only get worse.

As part of the offer, it would be agreed that, if you or your representatives were to build a mosque, it would be located at least five blocks further from the World Trade Center site. This offer is for all cash with an immediate closing and is subject only to the finalizing and signing of mutually acceptable documents.”

Wolodymyr Starolsky, a lawyer for Mr. Elzanaty, says, “This letter looks like it was written by a publicist rather than a serious business man. It suggests to me that Mr. Trump sees this as an opportunity to reclaim some of the limelight and luster that he has been losing.” The Park 51 site was bought for $4.8 million by Soho Properties. Starolsky adds, “This is just a cheap attempt to get publicity.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has proven himself to be a shameless opportunist. In 1989, he did a similar thing during the early days of the tragedy now remembered as the "Central Park Five Case." Five teenagers: Kharey Wise, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCrae and Yusef Salaam were all unjustly arrested, prosecuted and convicted of assaulting then investment banker Trisha Meili.
Before the trial, Trump spent $85,000 to place an ad entitled “Bring Back The Death Penalty, Bring Back Our Police” in the New York Times, Newsday, Daily News and New York Post. In the ad, Trump said “I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” Trump also decried “a world ruled by the law of the streets, as roving bands of wild criminals roam our neighborhoods.”
Not surprisingly, with the help of media sensationalism using terms like “wolf-pack,” “animals,” and "wilding" the teens were convicted in the news—then in the courtroom. Raymond Santana was incarcerated for five years. Yusef Salaam and Kevin Richardson both spent five and a half years in prison. Antron McCrae spent six years locked up.  And, Kharey Wise served 11.5 years.

Then, in 2002, Matias Reyes confessed to being the sole perpetrator of the crime. Reyes’ insightfully detailed confession—as well as DNA evidence—made it clear he was telling the truth. Five teens were sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit. Donald Trump, with his reckless advertisements, helped to seal their fate. What would’ve happened if one, or more, of these teens had been executed before the truth was revealed?
Given this stunning turn of events, one would think Trump would’ve been remorseful for his role in this travesty of justice. Instead, he staunchly refused to admit any wrongdoing in this sordid tale or to place an ad apologizing for his conduct. In fact, in 2002, he scoffed: “They confessed.”  He also said, “At the time there seemed to be very little question” of the guilt of the teens. He said this in spite of the fact that people like him convicted those youngsters before one iota of evidence was presented in court. Aren’t we supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?

Trump in his moment of self-serving opportunism stroked the flames of racism that has always threatened to burn America down. Now, here he comes again crawling out of his sewer pretending to be a reasonable man.

In his letter to the Park 51 investor, he claims he wants to “end a very serious, inflammatory, and highly divisive situation.” Instead, in it he exhibits the very same xenophobia rearing its ugly head in this age of anti-Muslim, anti-Obama, Tea Party era hysteria. If Trump really wants to defuse the situation, he should side with voices of tolerance and reason, like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who backs the proposed plan, has.
In the Central Park Five Case, Trump didn’t give a damn about the due process the defendants deserved. After all, who cares about the rights of a bunch of “wilding” minority “animals?”

Once again, Trump is pandering to bigotry, implicitly agreeing that somehow all Muslims are responsible for 9-11, or are potential terrorists. Trump, please go away. To borrow from his own show: "You’re fired."

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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