Yusef Salaam, one of the exonerated Central Park Five, had only one word to say about former President Donald Trump’s indictment on Thursday: “Karma.”
Salam was among five black and brown teenagers wrongfully imprisoned for the 1989 rape of a white woman in New York’s Central Park, a case that was explored in the 2019 Netflix series “When They See Us.” Salaam served nearly seven years in prison before he and the other wrongfully accused teenagers were exonerated in 2002.
In 1989, before one of the five teenagers was put on trial, Trump, then a Manhattan real estate developer, ran full-page newspaper ads calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York City. Those involved in the case later said that although Trump’s ads never explicitly called for the death penalty for the defendants, they played a major role in securing a conviction.
Salaam, who recently announced his candidacy for New York City Council, noted Thursday that Trump never “apologized for calling for my execution.”
In 2019, when Trump was asked if he would apologize, he said, “You have people on both sides. They admitted their guilt.
Members of the Five, now criminal justice activists, say they were coerced by police into confessing.
“During the hours of relentless interrogations we all endured, detectives repeatedly lied to us,” Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana wrote in a 2019 opinion piece for The New York Times, describing themselves as “terrified young boys” at the time.
“They said they checked our fingerprints against the evidence from the crime scene and told each of us that the others had confessed and implicated us in the attack. They said if we just admitted to having participated on offense, we could go home. All of that was blatant lies.
Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on Thursday for his role in a silent $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in the days leading up to the 2016 election. The payment was given in exchange for the film actor’s silence for adults about an affair she claims to have had with Trump a decade earlier.