Harlem voters send Trump’s ‘death penalty’ con to City Council

Newly elected New York City Council member Yusef Salaam seen here speaking during an interview with The Associated Press, May 24, 2023, in New York.
Newly elected New York City Council member Yusef Salaam seen here speaking during an interview with The Associated Press, May 24, 2023, in New York.
Associate Press/Mary Altaffer, File

In a hotly-contested seat for a liberal Democratic representative to the New York City Council, formerly profiled, wrongly accused, incarcerated, Harlem candidate Yusef Salaam won his bid for the seat.

The 49-year-old father of 10, walloped veteran rivals Assembly members Al Taylor, 65 and 73-year-old Inez Dickens who previously represented the Harlem district for 12 years in the City Council.

As a first-time political aspirant Salaam will replace Councilmember Kristin Richardson Jordan who opted against running for re-election.

Salaam received more than half the votes, doubling his lead over his contenders to triumphantly secure victory in the 9th CD where voters inked preference for his leadership.

“I am here because Harlem you believe in me,” Salaam said after declaring victory.

Acclaimed by the Central Harlem community for allegedly being framed by a syndicate comprised of members of the NYPD and lawyers from the office of the Manhattan District Attorney, the candidate became a household pariah in 1989 when he along with four Harlem teenagers were charged and convicted with beating and raping investment banker and jogger Patricia Miele in Central Park,

Since his release in 1997 — after serving seven years in prison –Salaam has dedicated his time as a motivational speaker about his unfortunate experience while simultaneously fulfilling his dream as a poet.

“I was 15 years old when I was run over by the spiked wheels of justice,” Salam said “And here I am now taking that same platform and turn it in into a purpose, trying to take my pain and doing something about it.”

Salaam found vindication talking about his incarceration and the system that targeted him as a Black youth.

He has also authored a memoir titled “Better Not Bitter.”

The tome chronicles how as teenager he was notoriously maligned as one of the Central Park Five defendants.

Compiled in a 288-page book, Yusef Idris Faadel Abdus Salaam explains a mantra he adopted during incarceration — “don’t accept the proverbial number you’ve been given. I was not 95A1113.”

In recalling his journey during the explosive period of racial divide in New York City it was inevitable that he would he would overlook the fact Donald Trump wanted him dead.

It has been widely published that Trump placed full-page advertisement in three newspapers demanding the death penalty for Salaam and the four other teenagers.

That Salaam was able to reclaim his identity when he and four Harlem neighbors were released and declared the Exonerated Five reads like a Hollywood movie script.

Reportedly, Salaam was released after an inmate approached Kairey Wise, one of the convicted teenagers saying “you’re doing my time.”

Because DNA evidence linked the braggart with the crime, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Wise and Salaam were exonerated in 2002.

Ironically when Trump was indicted on 34 felonious counts of criminal misconduct in the same State Supreme Court Salaam traversed more than three decades ago, Salaam’s only comment was “Karma.”

The one-word response spoke volumes to a situation involving a former New Yorker who acted as judge and jury in deciding the controversial case, emerged president of the United States and made history as the first twice-impeached former commander in chief of the nation.

In fact, Salaam could have waged a similar tabloid campaign in order to propagate favorability.

Instead, Salaam is now the elected representative from the same Village he was disparaged, scoring triumph over Trump’s wish list and extending a long list of failed aspirations

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