MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Exonerated “Central Park Five” member Yusef Salaam won a seat Tuesday on the New York City Council, marking a stunning reversal of fortune for a political newcomer who was wrongly imprisoned as a teenager in the infamous rape case.
Salaam, a Democrat, will represent a central Harlem district on the City Council, having run unopposed for the seat in one of many local elections across New York on Tuesday. He won his primary election in a landslide.
The victory comes more than two decades after DNA evidence was used to overturn the convictions of Salaam and four other Black and Latino men in the 1989 rape and beating of a white jogger in Central Park. Salaam was imprisoned for almost seven years.
“We have to make sure we’re grooming ourselves to assume the positions of power,” Salaam said on election night.
He spoke to a crowd of supporters, alongside his family and fellow exoneree, Raymond Santana.
“The Central Park jogger case is a microcosm of cases just like ours. I’ve become the ambassador because so many people experience the same thing,” Salaam told PIX11 News.
His priorities as a council member will be equity, housing and public safety.
This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.