June 28 (UPI) — Yusef Salaam, one of five teenagers who was wrongly convicted of raping a woman in Central Park in 1989, is now positioned to win a seat on the New York City council.
In the case known in the media as the “Central Park Five,” Salaam was arrested and charged with four other Black and Latino teenage boys of raping Trisha Meili — a white woman. The teens each received sentences of between seven and 13 years in prison.
Matias Reyes, a serial rapist who attacked five other women, confessed to assaulting Meili alone about a decade later, which was confirmed by DNA evidence. The convictions against Salaam and the other teens were vacated in 2002.
Official vote counts are still being counted because the city uses a ranked-choice voting system for primary and special elections that could take days to finalize.
Vote counts as of Wednesday morning showed Salaam had received 50.1% of the vote putting him in the lead before votes get redistributed under the ranked-choice system, CNN reported.
Others in the primary race include Inez Dickens, a term-limited member of the New York State Assembly who had the support of Mayor Eric Adams, and Assemblyman Al Taylor. Kristin Richardson Jordan, the incumbent city council member, has withdrawn from the race.
Whoever wins the Democratic primary is poised to claim the seat in the heavily Democratic stronghold over any Republican challenger.
“This campaign has been about those who have been counted out,” Salaam said Tuesday night. “This campaign has been about those who have been forgotten. This campaign has been about our Harlem community that has been pushed into the margins of life.”
In 1989, as Salaam and the other teenagers faced prison, former President Donald Trump — then just a controversial businessman — took out full-page newspaper ads calling for the teens to face the death penalty.
“There were large ads bought in 1989, a whisper for the state to kill us,” Salaam said Tuesday. “A whisper, in fact, into the darkest enclaves of society for them to do to us what they had done to Emmett Till.”