On Tuesday night, exonerated Central Park Five member Yusef Salaam declared victory in the Democratic primary race for the Harlem District 9 seat in the New York City Council.
Falsely imprisoned as one of the “Central Park Five,” Yusef Salaam will likely become Harlem’s next city council member while that man who called for him to be given the death penalty, twice indicted, twice impeached former president Donald J. Trump, could be heading to prison.
34 years ago on April 20, 1989, five black and Latino teens—Antron McCray, 15, Kevin Richardson, 15, Yusef Salaam, 15, Raymond Santana, 14, and Korey Wise, 16—who came to be known as the Central Park Five—were wrongly accused, convicted and imprisoned for the rape of a woman jogging in New York’s Central Park and run over by the spiked wheels of justice. On Tuesday, June 27, 2023, Yusef is one step closer to becoming a member of the city council, the lawmaking body of New York City. Now that’s what I called exoneration!
Salaam faced two veteran politicians, New York state assembly members Al Taylor, 65, and Inez Dickens, 73, in the race for a seat representing part of the majority-Black uptown Manhattan neighborhood. The incumbent, democratic socialist Kristin Richard Jordan, dropped out of the race in May but remained on the ballot.
The Associated Press has not declared a winner in the primary race and the election’s outcome might not be certain for days because of New York’s ranked-choice voting rules. That system kicks in if no candidate claims more than 50% of the total vote.
It was unclear early on Wednesday whether Salaam would stay above that threshold. With about 95% of votes counted, Salaam had a little less than 51% of the vote, with Dickens trailing substantially in second place.
Salaam nonetheless declared victory in a speech to supporters late on Tuesday.
His victory was a clear rebuke to twice impeached former president Donald Trump, who took out full-page ads in 1989 in major papers, including The New York Times, demanding the death penalty for the five young men. Defense attorneys said after their clients were convicted, the Trump crusade played a big role in cementing public opinion against them. Then, after the actual rapist confessed in 2002, the five were freed, and the city paid them $41 million to settle a malicious prosecution and racial discrimination lawsuit in 2014. Trump called the settlement “a disgrace,” and continued to insist, deplorably, that they were guilty while running for president in 2016.
Salaam looks to be headed to City Hall; Trump might well be headed to prison, federally charged with espionage.
Black Westchester would like to congratulate our brother Yusef Abdus Salaam!