After the Nov 7 election, “Central Park Five” member Yusef Salaam now has a seat on the New York City council. Salaam will represent a central Harlem district on the city council. He won his primary election in a landslide.
This win is monumental in the story of Salaam. As a teenager, he and four other young boys were at the center of an infamous legal battle for being wrongly imprisoned in a rape case. Over two decades ago, DNA evidence was used to overturn he and his counterparts’ convictions in the 1989 rape and beating of a white jogger in Central Park. Salaam was imprisoned for almost seven years while others served between five to 12 years.
A serial rapist and murderer was eventually linked to the crime through DNA evidence and a confession. The convictions of the Central Park Five were vacated in 2002 and they received a combined $41m settlement from the city.
“I’ve often said that those who have been close to the pain should have a seat at the table,” Salaam told the Associated Press in July. “When people look at me and they know my story, they resonate with it. 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 climb out of despair.”