BY ANTHONY IZAGUIRRE
Exonerated “Central Park 5” member Yusef Salaam received a seat Tuesday on the New York Metropolis Council, finishing a gorgeous reversal of fortune a long time after he was wrongly imprisoned in an notorious rape case.
Salaam, a Democrat, will characterize a central Harlem district on the Metropolis Council, having run unopposed for the seat in one in all many native elections held throughout New York state Tuesday. He received his major election in a landslide.
The victory comes greater than 20 years after DNA proof was used to overturn the convictions of Salaam and 4 different Black and Latino males within the 1989 rape and beating of a white jogger in Central Park. Salaam was arrested at age 15 and imprisoned for nearly seven years.
“For me, which means we will actually turn out to be our ancestors’ wildest goals,” Salaam mentioned in an interview earlier than the election.
Elsewhere in New York Metropolis, voters have been deciding whether or not to reelect the Queens district lawyer and solid ballots in different Metropolis Council races. The council, which passes laws and has some oversight powers over metropolis companies, has lengthy been dominated by Democrats and the celebration was sure to retain agency management after the election.
Native elections on Lengthy Island might supply clues about how the town’s suburbs might vote in subsequent yr’s congressional elections, although low turnout was anticipated as a result of there weren’t federal or statewide candidates on the poll this election.
One of many extra distinguished races was in Suffolk County, the place Republican Ed Romaine defeated Democrat David Calone to turn out to be county govt, giving the GOP management of an workplace that had lengthy been managed by a Democrat.
Democrats misplaced in all 4 of Lengthy Island’s congressional districts final yr and have devoted important sources to the area for 2024. Republicans, bolstering campaigns with a deal with native points similar to crime and migrants, are aiming to carry onto the seats subsequent yr.
“Keeping track of Lengthy Island, which has been a bit counterintuitive in its election outcomes the previous couple of years with a mixture of nationwide and native points, provides you an opportunity to see what’s taking part in in a typical suburb that’s not in contrast to those in Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona, Nevada and different locations that each events imagine are at play,” mentioned Lawrence Levy, govt dean of the Nationwide Middle for Suburban Research at Hofstra College on Lengthy Island.
Within the metropolis in the meantime, Salaam’s candidacy was a reminder of what the conflict on crime can appear to be when it goes too far.
Salaam was arrested together with Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Korey Sensible and accused of attacking a girl operating in Central Park.
The crime dominated headlines within the metropolis, inflaming racial tensions as police rounded up Black and Latino males and boys for interrogation. Former President Donald Trump, then only a brash actual property govt within the metropolis, took out giant advertisements in newspapers that implored New York to deliver again the loss of life penalty.
The kids convicted within the assault served between 5 and 12 years in jail earlier than the case was reexamined.
A serial rapist and assassin was finally linked to the crime via DNA proof and a confession. The convictions of the Central Park 5 have been vacated in 2002 and so they obtained a mixed $41 million settlement from the town.
Salaam campaigned on easing poverty and combatting gentrification in Harlem. He usually talked about his conviction
and imprisonment on the path — his place as a logo of injustice serving to to animate the overwhelmingly Black district and propel him to victory.
“I’m actually the ambassador for everybody’s ache,” he mentioned. “In some ways, I went via that for our individuals so I can now lead them.”
In a extra aggressive Metropolis Council race, Democrat Justin Brannan defeated Republican Ari Kagan in an ethnically various south Brooklyn district. The race turned heated as Election Day approached, with the candidates sparring over the Israel-Hamas conflict and New York’s migrant disaster.
In a slight that symbolized the stress between the lads, Brannan just lately tweeted a photograph of a ribbon slicing ceremony that he and Kagan attended, however the picture had Kagan’s face blurred out.
Additionally in Brooklyn, Metropolis Council member Inna Vernikov, a vocal supporter of Israel, received reelection weeks after she was arrested for bringing a gun to a pro-Palestinian demonstration.
Vernikov was seen in pictures and movies with the butt of a pistol poking out of her waistband whereas she was counterprotesting on the pro-Palestinian rally at Brooklyn School in October. She was arraigned final week on a cost of possessing a gun at a delicate location.
Vernikov has a hid carry license, however New York regulation forbids gun homeowners from bringing firearms to delicate places similar to protests and faculty grounds, and requires individuals with licenses to maintain their handguns hid.
She has surrendered her gun and she or he’s subsequent due in courtroom Jan. 24.
Statewide, New Yorkers permitted two poll measures — one to take away the debt restrict positioned on small metropolis college districts and the opposite to increase an exclusion from the debt restrict for sewage tasks.