Yusef Salaam of ‘Exonerated 5’ Wins NYC Council Race

One of the five teenagers who were exonerated years after they were wrongfully convicted of raping a woman in Central Park, is leading in a race for New York City Council.

Yusef Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five, won a primary in New York City on Tuesday, June 27, in a move that could see him representing the 9th District in the City Council, CBS News reported. Unofficial results from the city’s Board of Elections showed Salaam as the first choice of 50.1% of voters on Wednesday.

He beat out Assemblywoman Inez Dickens, who had the support of Mayor Eric Adams and received 25% of votes; and Assemblyman Al Taylor, who received 14.4%. Incumbent Kristin Richardson Jordan had already withdrawn from the race.

After votes are finalized, Salaam will have prevailed in the primary and ultimately the general election where he will be representing the 9th District in the City Council, which includes the part of East Harlem where he grew up.

“This campaign has been about those who have been counted out,” Salaam said.

“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.”

The Harlem native celebrated at the Harlem Tavern after his Tuesday night win.

“What has happened on this campaign has restored my faith in knowing that I was born for this,” he said.

Salaam was among five teenagers wrongly imprisoned for seven years in the late 80s-early 90s after they were charged with raping and robbing a white jogger in a case that received nationwide attention. After it was found out the teens were innocent and coerced into giving false statements that led to their convictions, they were later all exonerated.

Salaam went on to become a motivational speaker, touring the world to speak out against criminal and social injustice. His run for city council is the first time he’s run for public office, as noted by City and State NY.

Now after beating out Dickens and Taylor, Salaam acknowledged his lack of political experience, but promised to be a candidate for change.

“I am not a seasoned politician. So therefore this was not politics as usual,” he said.

Salaam is now gearing up to claim the Harlem City Council seat held by Kristin Richardson Jordan, who dropped her reelection bid.