Yusef Salaam

By WVUA 23 Reporter Ellie Byrd

One of the former Central Park Five – now known as the Exonerated Five — offered an important lesson for listeners Monday at the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture at the University of Alabama.

Yusef Salaam was sentenced five to 10 years in state prison in 1990 for the murder of a woman found dead in New York’s Central Park. It wasn’t until 2002 that the five had their convictions overturned. By that time, Salaam already served seven years of his sentence.

“In the spirit of Dr. King, I choose love because hate is too much of a burden to bear,” Salaam said. “But my eyes are wide open.”

Since his release, Salaam has dedicated time to ensuring no one else is put in his position by raising awareness for issues including police coercion causing false confessions, along with the vulnerability of children and teenagers during interrogations.

He’s also been appointed to the board of the Innocence Project, an organization helping exonerate others who have been sentenced to prison for crimes they didn’t commit.

A new Netflix TV series called “When They See Us” is a fictional retelling of the Central Park Five’s ordeal.

Categories: Archives, Local News