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'Central Park Five' Member, Once Wrongly Imprisoned, Is Now Running For NYC Council

Yusef Salaam

Yusef Salaam spent seven years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Now, he says "those who have been close to the pain should have a seat at the table."

Yusef Salaam, one of the wrongly convicted "Central Park Five," has announced his candidacy for a Harlem seat on the New York City Council.

Salaam and four other Black and Latino boys were falsely accused of raping a white woman who was jogging in Central Park in 1989. Arrested at the age of 15, Salaam spent seven years in prison before he and his companions were exonerated. DNA evidence has since linked another man, a serial rapist, to the attack.

“I’ve often said that those who have been close to the pain should have a seat at the table,” Salaam recently said in an interview.

Once nicknamed the "Central Park Five," Salaam as well as Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise are now known as the "Exonerated Five." They have since been honored with the "Gate of the Exonerated," which is displayed near the entrance of Central Park where the crime initially occurred.

Salaam's platform focuses on prison abolition, police brutality, and the racial disparities within the criminal justice system. In 2019, he, Richardson, and Wise lobbied for a bill that aimed to outlaw some of the police tactics used in their wrongful convictions, including presenting false evidence during interrogations and requiring that children under 18 consult with an attorney before they can be questioned.

Salaam will go against two other candidates in a June 27 Democratic primary, which will decide who will run against the Republican candidate for control of the district, which is highly unlikely to vote in a candidate of the GOP.

“When people look at me and they they know my story, they resonate with it," Salaam continued. "But now here we are 34 years later, and I’m able to use that platform that I have and repurpose the pain, help people as we as we climb out of despair.”

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