Yosef Salaam, who was wrongly convicted in 1989 and acquitted 13 years later in the Central Park Five case, won the Democratic primary for a seat on the Harlem Central City Council in New York City. US media reported this on Wednesday. By this he is almost certain of a council seat.
Salam became internationally known when he was arrested at the age of 15 on charges of assaulting and raping a white woman who was jogging in New York’s Central Park. 28-year-old Trisha Meili was raped on April 19, 1989 and abused to the point where she was in a coma for twelve days and could not remember what happened. The attack led to social unrest and put pressure on the police to arrest the suspects.
Soon, five teens, four black and one Latino, were arrested and sentenced to years in prison, despite inconsistent confessions, a lack of eyewitness testimony, and DNA evidence that ruled them out as perpetrators. The teens, known as the Central Park Five, said they were coerced into making false confessions, which they later retracted.
The death penalty
Former President Donald Trump, then a businessman, placed full-page advertisements about the suit in several newspapers, including New York timesCalling for the return of the death penalty. In the 600-word ad, which heads it in bold, Trump wrote: “How can our great society tolerate the continued brutality of its citizens at the hands of mentally ill people?” reintroduction of the death penalty.
But in the early 2000s, another suspect – a serial rapist – confessed to the crime. His DNA was later linked to the case and two years later all five teens were acquitted. The victims received total compensation of $41 million (about 37 million euros).
Seven years in prison
Salam ended up serving seven years in prison. After his release, he moved to the southern state of Georgia, where he became an activist for reform of the American criminal justice system. In December last year, he moved to New York, after which he ran for city council.
During his campaign, Salam often referred to his conviction and nearly seven years in prison. In a recent interview, Salaam said his victory restored his “belief that what happened to me was just for this moment.” He also made clear this message when he posted his full-page ad with the headline: Restore justice and fairness.
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