Yusef Salaam, one of the five New York teens wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for the 1989 rape of a jogger in Central Park, issued a brief statement following Thursday's criminal indictment of former U.S. President Donald Trump—who called for bringing back the state's death penalty to execute the defendants and never apologized after they were cleared.
Salaam tweeted: "For those asking about my statement on the indictment of Donald Trump—who never said sorry for calling for my execution—here it is: Karma."
Trump spent $85,000—over $200,000 today—on a full-page ad that ran in all four of New York's major newspapers calling for the restoration of capital punishment so that the Central Park Five could be executed.
The ad read, in part:
Mayor [Ed] 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?
The five Black and Latino teens—Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, and Salaam—were beaten and coerced by New York City police into falsely confessing to the rape. They spent years behind bars for the horrific crime that they did not commit.
Salaam, who was 15 years old when his life was upended, was imprisoned for six years and eight months before his exoneration.
In a 2019 interview with the BBC, Salaam—who is now a motivational speaker—said that "I look at Donald Trump, and I understand him as a representation of a symptom of America."
"We were convicted because of the color of our skin. People thought the worst of us," he added. "And this is all because of prominent New Yorkers—especially Donald Trump."
In a statement, National Action Network founder and president Rev. Al Sharpton said that "it's not lost on those of us who were there in 1989 that Donald Trump will likely walk into the same courthouse where the Exonerated 5 were falsely convicted for a crime they did not commit."
"Let's not forget that it was Donald Trump who took out full-page ads calling for these five Black and Brown young men to get the death penalty," Sharpton continued. "This is the same man who's now calling for violence when he has to go through the same system. The same man will have to stand up in a courtroom and see firsthand what the criminal justice system is like."
"All I can say is, what goes around comes around," he added.