Exonerated “Central Park Five” member Yusef Salaam claimed victory Tuesday (November 7) in his bid for a seat on the New York City Council, The Associated Press reports. The 49-year-old Democrat ran unopposed in the election and will represent a central Harlem district on the City Council.
His win comes 21 years after DNA evidence exonerated him and four other Black and Latino men from an infamous 1989 rape case. Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise were falsely convicted of brutally beating and raping a white jogger in Central Park. Salaam was 15 at the time of his conviction and spent nearly seven years in prison.
“For me, this means that we can really become our ancestors’ wildest dreams,” Salaam said in an interview before the election.
After the Central Park Five were cleared of wrongdoing, they took legal action against New York City, leading to a $41 million settlement in 2014. Their harrowing story also became the subject of a 2012 documentary film and later a TV Netflix miniseries created by Ava DuVernay.
At the height of the 1989 rape case, Donald Trump took out massive ads in newspapers calling for New York to bring back the death penalty. Decades later when the former U.S. president was indicted in the city for business fraud, Salaam finally clapped back in his own social media ad mimicking Trump’s ads about the Central Park Five.
“Over 30 years ago, Donald Trump took out full page ads calling for my execution,” Salaam posted on Twitter (now X) in April. “On the day he was arrested and arraigned, here is my ad in response.”