Convicted Criminal Running For Office?

Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash

One of the “Central Park Five,” five young Black and Latino teenagers wrongly convicted in 1989 of assaulting and raping a white woman in New York’s Central Park, has launched his entry into the New York City Council.

The member, Yusef Salaam, who spent almost seven years in prison over a false conviction, is running in the Democratic primary to represent a Harlem district, which will take place on June 27.

During an interview discussing his entry, Salaam shared his belief that “those who have been close to the pain should have a seat at the table.”

The New York City native was wrongfully imprisoned when 15 years old alongside four other teenagers but was released in 1997.

In 2002, DNA evidence that was previously uncovered, in addition to a confession from the culprit, led to the sentences for the so-called “Exonerated Five” being overturned.

Salaam is a longtime advocate for the abolition of prison, police brutality, and disparities in the criminal justice system.

In 2019, Salaam co-sponsored a state measure with two other gang members that would have banned some police tactics that led to their wrongful convictions. The activist is dedicated to solving problems in Harlem, such as poverty, child homelessness, and rent payments.

Salaam will be joining two candidates — New York Assembly members Al Taylor and Inez Dickens — who are more politically seasoned than Salaam in the Democratic primary, which has already started its early voting.

However, the candidate highlighted his credentials, emphasizing that he’s been “fighting for justice for 34 years since I was 15 years old.”