Exonerated ‘Central Park Five’ Member Set to Win NYC Council Seat

Dave Kotinsky/Getty
Dave Kotinsky/Getty

An exonerated “Central Park Five” member, who was wrongly imprisoned for almost seven years as a teenager as a result of a rape case, was set to win a seat on the New York City Council on Tuesday. Yusef Salaam will represent a central Harlem district as a Democrat after running unopposed, in part due to his overwhelming victory in the primaries. Salaam has vowed to combat poverty and gentrification in Harlem. While campaigning, he said, “I am really the ambassador for everyone’s pain. In many ways, I went through that for our people so I can now lead them.” More than two decades ago, DNA evidence reversed the convictions of Salaam and four other Black and Latino men–Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise–in the 1989 rape and beating of a white woman who was jogging in Central Park. As the case played out in 1989, Donald Trump, then a real estate developer, took out full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty—something he has refused to apologize for ever since. In an interview before the election, Salaam said, “For me, this means that we can really become our ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

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