Central Park Five’s Salaam poised to win NYC Council primary

(Bloomberg) —

Yusef Salaam, one of five young men wrongfully convicted and later exonerated in the infamous 1989 Central Park jogger rape case, declared victory in a primary race to represent Harlem on the New York City Council.

Salaam, 49, was leading challengers in the Democratic race for the 9th District as of Wednesday morning, with 50% of the vote, according to unofficial election night results from the New York City Board of Elections. He was ahead of two sitting state Assembly members, including Inez Dickens, who was backed by Mayor Eric Adams. 

Yusef Salaam

Incumbent Kristin Richardson Jordan, a first-term council member who describes herself a socialist, shocked the city’s political establishment earlier this year when she declared she didn’t intend to run again. The district is heavily Democratic, and the winner of the primary is almost certain to win the seat in November’s general election. 

The story of the Central Park Five is well-known to many New Yorkers, and Salaam, who moved back to the city from Georgia last year, campaigned heavily on his past. He was just 14 when he and four other Black and Latino teenagers were accused in the rape and beating of a female jogger in Central Park, a case that drew outsize public attention. 

Salaam and the other young men were convicted, but their guilty verdicts were vacated in 2002, when another man confessed to the crimes. New York City settled a civil lawsuit with the five men for $41 million in 2014. He spent seven years in prison.

Read more: NYC settles lawsuit over ‘Central Park Five’ rape convictions

Shortly after the 1989 attack, Donald Trump took out a full-page newspaper ad calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty for the perpetrators of the crime. When the former president was arraigned earlier this year by the Manhattan District Attorney on felony charges of falsifying business records, Salaam released a statement, calling Trump’s arrest “karma.”

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