Yusef Salaam, a renowned activist and a member of the “Central Park Five” who was wrongfully convicted and later exonerated, along with Zeneta Everhart, the mother of a survivor of the Buffalo mass shooting, are on their way to serving in their respective city governments in New York.
Both candidates have earned recognition for their tireless efforts in the pursuit of justice.
Salaam has emerged as the frontrunner in the highly competitive Democratic primary for a Harlem seat on the New York City Council.
Despite 95% of the vote being counted, Salaam maintains a significant lead, surpassing the 50% threshold required to secure the primary victory.
Given the district’s overwhelming Democratic dominance, his victory in the November election appears virtually assured.
“Even if Salaam falls short of the majority, the ranked-choice voting system will come into effect, where candidates above a certain threshold will receive the votes of New Yorkers who named them as their second choice,” a report says.
However, considering Salaam’s commanding lead of 25 percentage points over his closest competitor, his triumph through ranked-choice voting calculations is highly improbable.
Expressing his gratitude and optimism, Salaam declared victory on Tuesday night, stating, “What has occurred in this campaign has reaffirmed my belief that I was destined for this role. Every experience that befalls you is meant to shape you.”
Addressing his supporters, Salaam drew upon his own harrowing experience as a teenager who was unjustly accused, convicted, and incarcerated for a crime in 1989, despite being innocent.
DNA evidence more than two decades ago ultimately exonerated Salaam and his co-defendants, all of whom were Black and Latino men.
“I consider myself fortunate because I was able to perceive it for what it truly was – a system that aimed to make me believe that I embodied the worst fears of my ancestors. Yet, I am the embodiment of their most ambitious aspirations,” Salaam expressed.
In 1989, Donald Trump had taken out full-page newspaper advertisements regarding the Central Park jogger case, advocating for the reinstatement of the death penalty without explicitly mentioning the accused by name. His intentions were clear.
During his 2019 reelection campaign, Trump declined to apologize for those ads, stating, “You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt,” in reference to the five individuals who had initially confessed but later recanted, citing police coercion.
Moving to Buffalo, Zeneta Everhart emerged victorious in a Democratic primary race for a seat on the Buffalo Common Council, defeating India Walton, a democratic socialist who had previously caused an upset by winning the primary against Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown in 2021.
Everhart secured a significant victory, prevailing over Walton by a two-to-one margin.
Her prominence arose following her son, Zaire Goodman, being injured in a mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket, which claimed the lives of ten Black individuals and injured three others.