Trump whines in court as Yusuf Salaam wins NYC Council seat: GREENE

Trump whines in court as Yusuf Salaam wins NYC Council seat: GREENE

It was only fitting that Yusef Salaam was elected to a City Council seat from Harlem in the same week that former President Donald Trump was in a Manhattan courtroom lying about lying.

The last time both men shared headlines in the same newspaper, Trump was calling for the death penalty after Salaam and four of his buddies were arrested and charged in the 1989 rape of a white woman jogging in Central Park.

Salaam, Kharey Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson and  Raymond Santana — Black and Latino teens from Harlem — had yet to face a jury, before Trump, a loudmouth, narcissistic real estate mogul, bought ads in four of the city’s newspapers, including the Daily News, using their arrests to call for the restoration of New York’s death penalty.

“I want to hate these murderers and I always will,” Trump wrote of the city’s violent criminals in the May 1989 ad. “I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them. If the punishment is strong, the attacks on innocent people will stop.”

Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on Oct. 18, 2023, in New York City.
Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on Oct. 18, 2023, in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Trump headlined and ended the ad with thundering capital letters:

“BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY,” he wrote. “BRING BACK OUR POLICE!”

There was only one problem. Salaam and the others didn’t do it.

Cops and critics argued that the defendants were part of a group of marauders who menaced people in the park — “wilding” was the term widely used — robbing, beating and harassing joggers, walkers and people sitting on benches.

All five suspects were convicted, each spending between seven and 13 years in prison.

Salaam served nearly seven years in jail, and had already been free for five years when his conviction was vacated along with the others.

The Central Park Five, as they had been dubbed in the media, had their convictions overturned in 2002 after a prison inmate, Matias Reyes, said he was the one who raped the jogger, and DNA evidence backed his confession.

From left to right, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana Jr., Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, and Kevin Richardson of the "Central Park Five" speak onstage at the 2019 BET Awards on June 23, 2019, in Los Angeles, Calif.
From left to right, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana Jr., Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, and Kevin Richardson of the “Central Park Five” speak onstage at the 2019 BET Awards in Los Angeles. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The five men were awarded a $41 million settlement from the city in 2014, but not without protests from detractors, including the future president, who then — and now — refused to apologize.

“I am really the ambassador for everyone’s pain,” Salaam told the Associated Press after his victory last week. “In many ways, I went through that for our people so I can now lead them.”

Salaam projected a much humbler tone than he did when Trump was first indicted in April.

Back then, Salaam tweeted the word “karma” to  his followers, and linked to his own “advertisement,” which he said was a response to the Trump take from 1989.

He blasted Trump for criticizing the city’s settlement.

But even that acknowledgement from the city wasn’t enough for Trump to see five young Black and Latino men as anything other than criminals, saying ‘settling doesn’t mean innocence.’”

Salaam wrote, “Now, after several decades and an unfortunate and disastrous presidency, we all know exactly who Donald J. Trump is — a man who seeks to deny justice and fairness for others while claiming only innocence for himself.”

Yusef Salaam speaks to supporters and the media after winning a New York City Council seat during a watch party at Just Lorraine's Place 2 bar in Harlem, New York, on Nov. 7, 2023.
Yusef Salaam speaks to supporters and the media after winning a New York City Council seat during a watch party at Just Lorraine’s Place 2 bar in Harlem. (CECILIA SANCHEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Indeed. At his fraud trial, where he is accused of inflating the value of assets to obtain favorable loans and insurance deals, Trump shifted the blame to others in his organization before whining about the line of questioning.

“This is a very unfair trial,” Trump said from the witness stand. “Very, very. And I hope the public is watching.”

Pot, meet kettle. Trump, meet Yusuf Salaam.

Salaam knows a few things about unfair trials.  Detectives held Salaam and his friends without food and kept them away from their parents as part of an effort to coerce their confessions, the strongest pieces of “evidence” against them.

These days Salaam is looking ahead.

“While I was a teenager sitting in a cell, forgotten by the masses, it was my family and my community that made sure that wasn’t the end of my journey,’ Salaam said during his victory speech. “Tonight begins my opportunity to free us from being overlooked and underserved.”

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