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Justice Looks A Lot Like Exonerated 5's Yusef Salaam Winning NYC Council Seat While Trump's Empire Crumbles
Let's all give it up for Councilman Salaam!
Yusef Salaam was elected on Tuesday to represent Harlem on the New York City Council, but he’d be dead now if Donald Trump had his way.
Salaam is one of five Black and Latino teenagers who were railroaded and falsely convicted in the 1989 rape of Trisha Meili in Central Park. They maintained their innocence, even at parole board hearings. Trump placed a full-page advertisement in the May 1, 1989, edition of all four of the city’s major newspapers that demanded the return of the death penalty. (Salaam was 15 years old at the time.) Trump wrote (or at least ranted in the direction of someone with a typewriter):
“Mayor Koch has stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so. I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer ... Yes, Mayor Koch, I want to hate these murderers and I always will. ... How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told that their Civil Liberties End When an Attack On Our Safety Begins”
So the random capitalization isn’t just the product of his aged, befuzzled mind then; it goes back to the beginning. The future accused felon said he wanted “criminals of every age to be afraid.” We know what he meant and who specifically he considered “criminals.” These five kids weren’t yet convicted of anything but they were brown, so that was sufficient to establish their guilt in Trump’s mind.
This has always been Donald Trump. “Saturday Night Live” banned Sinead O’Connor for ripping up a photo of the Pope but would invite Trump to host the show twice after his vicious, lynch-mob raising ad.
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Trump never apologized for his rush to judgment, even after Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise were fully exonerated. Now, Trump stands trial in New York … again, and Salaam, who was released from prison in 1997, has joined the lawmaking body of New York City.
“Karma is real, and we have to remember that,” Salaam observed in a recent interview. I couldn’t have put it better, though I might’ve added a “fuck you, asshole.”
Trump and his idiot son (the first one) have whined about his “political persecution," but New York police allegedly coerced a confession from the 15-year-old Salaam through beatings and threats. Salaam claims the police denied him and the other teens “food, drink or sleep” for most of a day. Trump wasn’t satisfied with the rushed convictions of children with only the illusion of due process. He wanted them dead.
Salaam ran unopposed yesterday after defeating two sitting members of the New York State Assembly in June’s Democratic primary. Kristin Richardson Jordan, who currently holds the seat, dropped out of the race before the primary, which is probably for the best, as she has what you might generously describe as a “unique” take on recent world events.
“Had Washington and Brussels taken Russia’s security concerns seriously this war wouldn’t be happening,” she said days after Russia illegally invaded Ukraine. “No country wants or deserves to have foreign powers placing missiles right on its borders.”
“In 2014, the US helped overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected leader in an illegal coup,” she said, describing Putin-puppet Viktor Yanukovych. She further claimed the US “helped install a fascist government and empowered a far-right military all with the goal of destabilizing Russia.” If “the parliament unanimously voting to remove the Putin puppet from office” is an “illegal coup,” then sure, but otherwise that’s a big fat nope.
Jordan is not some craven MAGA opportunist like JD Vance, though. She’s been spreading anti-NATO propaganda for a while now. She wrote in 1999 regarding the Kosovo War, the US and NATO intervention in which stopped a(nother) genocide, “This is the tip of the iceberg. The US and NATO have a violent history destabilizing the region, such as when it facilitated the breakup of Yugoslavia after bombing Serbia for 78 days. Ignoring or excusing the U.S.’ role in this crisis is ahistorical and chauvinist.”
Wow, Jordan might’ve met Trump in the middle of the pro-Putin horseshoe. Talk about “ahistorical and chauvinist”! It’s even more fitting that Salaam has replaced her.
Salaam’s future was bleak following his release from prison. He briefly worked as a construction worker in an apartment complex in the Mitchell–Lama Housing Program on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, but the company fired him when they learned who he was. Since his exoneration in 2002, he has made the most of his life and will now faithfully serve the city that once abandoned him.
“For me, this means that we can really become our ancestors’ wildest dreams,” Salaam said just prior to the election. His dream is one that Trump would’ve snuffed out without a thought. It’s why Trump deserves the true justice Salaam was denied for so long.
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