*20 years ago, Yusef Salaam was released from prison after a judge vacated his conviction, as well as those of his alleged accomplices, in the rape of a white jogger in Central Park.
The so-called Central Park 5 would later be called the Exonerated 5 by director Ava DuVernay during the run up to her Netflix miniseries When They See Us, which dramatized these events.
Some of us still remember how Donald J. Trump pulled out a fool-page ad in the New York Times calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in the highly racialized case.
Kharey Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam had their convictions overturned in 2002 when prison inmate Matias Reyes confessed to the crime and DNA evidence backed him up.
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According to the New York Daily News, Salaam is running to fill the vacated seat of Harlem state Senator Brian Benjamin, who was nominated to be the next lieutenant governor of New York.
Sources close to the matter say the 47-year-old will focus his efforts on criminal justice and prison reform as well as police brutality and the abolition of juvenile solitary confinement.
The 30th District seat he looking to fill would represent Harlem, East Harlem and the Upper West Side.
He served seven years on first-degree rape and robbery charges and was already free for years before the conviction was overturned.
“The overwhelming feeling that I have towards the police and prosecutors is that they knew that we had not done this crime,” Salaam told NPR earlier this year. “They knew it, but yet they chose to move forward. They built their careers off of our backs. And the law of karma caught up to them.”