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IN AUGUST OF 1990, Yusef Salaam, then 15 years old, told the judge at his sentencing hearing that he looked at “this legal lynchingas a test by my God Allah.” On Tuesday, nearly 23 years later, Salaam — an exonerated man, poet, author, and activist — is poised to win the New York City Council primary in his home district of Harlem.
Salaam was one of five teenagers in the “Central Park 5,” a group of teens wrongfully convicted for the rape and assault of a jogger in New York City’s Central Park in 1989. He served seven years in juvenile detention before his conviction was overturned in 2002.
On Tuesday night, Salaam was set to win the democratic vote by over 50 percent in a district unlikely to elect a Republican in November’s general election.
He spoke to his supporters on Tuesday night, tearing up, and for a moment seemed somewhat stunned. “Harlem is the place that gave me a second chance,” he said. “I am my ancestors wildest dream.”