There’s not much one can say when the man who called for your death as a teenager is indicted. But upon hearing the news of former President Donald Trump’s indictment, Dr. Yusef Salaam had this to say; “Karma.”
For those who don’t know, Salaam is one of the Central Park Five (now the Exonerated 5), a group of Black and Latino teenage boys who were wrongfully convicted of a rape in Central Park in 1989. The boys were later exonerated after the actual rapist, Matias Reyes, came forward and DNA evidence proving he was guilty. The case was dramatized in Ava Duvernay’s film, When They See Us, which depicted the various ways law enforcement coerced false statements from the boys and pushed the case forward with little to no concrete evidence.
Perhaps what is most disturbing about the events surrounding the Central Park Five is the adults, like Trump, who called for the teenagers to face the death penalty. Before any conviction, Trump took out full-page advertisements in four New York City newspapers calling for the five teens to be executed.
“BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” wrote Trump’s advertisement.
Even after the now-grown men were exonerated, Trump refused to apologize for his rush to judgment, which could have ended in these boys’ deaths. “You have people on both sides of that,” said Trump in 2019, “They admitted their guilt.”
In his full statement about Trump’s indictment, Salaam, who is now running for New York City Council, called out the former real estate developer. “Trump has never apologized for taking out a full page ad calling for the death penalty for the Central Park 5,” wrote the statement from his campaign. “New York City Council candidate and Exonerated 5 member Yusef Salaam issued the following statement following the indictment of Donald Trump by the Manhattan District Attorney: “Karma”
It’s still too soon to know if the charges against Trump will stick, but if anyone gets to call Trump out before he’s convicted, it should probably be Salaam.