Exonerated for Central Park rape, NYC man elected to city council
November 8, 2023 10:08 PM
An exonerated member of the "Central Park Five" -- a group of Black and Hispanic teenagers falsely convicted of a 1989 rape in New York -- has won a seat on the city council, in a victory hailed by campaigners.
In a notorious miscarriage of justice, the five youths spent between six and 13 years in prison based on confessions extracted by police who promised them their freedom.
A serial rapist later admitted to assaulting the white female jogger in the park, acting alone.
Yusef Salaam, who won a seat Tuesday on the New York City Council, will represent a Harlem district as a Democrat.
"My liberation represented the collective efforts of many of you standing here right now and tonight begins my opportunity to free us from being overlooked and underserved," he told supporters.
Former president Donald Trump, a real estate mogul at the time of the crime, fanned outrage over the rape and attempted murder by paying for full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty.
"I can't help but think about the darkness that Yusef and I faced as teens, how they stripped us of our humanity, and convinced the world that we weren't worth saving," Raymond Santana, who was among those falsely convicted, said after Salaam's victory.
The case has remained emblematic of police misconduct, racism, crime and inequality in the United States.