He is a member of the Exonerated Five who is starting a career in politics. Yousef Salam is expected to win his campaign for a city council seat in central Harlem.
Antoine Lewis from Fox sits down with him to discuss his journey. For Yousef Salam, this election day has been a long time coming.
He believes that everything that has happened, even the bad things, has shaped and provided opportunities. When Salam decided to run for the New York City council’s Ninth District seat, his name was already well-known among many New Yorkers.
Salam was one of the five teenagers of color who were wrongly accused, convicted, and imprisoned for rape and other charges in the Central Park case in 1990. However, they were exonerated of the charges twelve years later. Salam, who was 14 at the time of the arrest and is now 49, believes that the pain he went through has helped him connect with others while campaigning. The main question for him has always been who will listen to his voice and address his grievances in positions of power.
Due to the belief that no one will come to save them, Salam and others like him feel the need to save themselves. The Central Park case caused division in the city, with Donald Trump, who was a businessman in New York City at the time, being one of the most vocal figures.
Trump even took out a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for the death penalty in response to the case. Salam acknowledges that Trump’s actions ignited a flame of hatred towards them and has never apologized for it, even after their convictions were overturned.
Salam finds the irony in the fact that Trump is now facing his own legal troubles. When asked if he wants an apology, Salam explains that what Trump did affected not just the five individuals, but also their families and their entire community.
The broad brush stroke with which they were painted as black deviants cannot be erased with a belated apology. Despite all this, Salam is focused on the future and his desire to serve the people of Harlem.
Running unopposed, he is ready to represent their interests. Salam believes that those who have experienced pain should have a seat at the table of power, and now he gets the opportunity to do just that..