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Exonerated Central Park Five member mocks Trump with ad of his own after indictment

Yusef Salaam shared the open letter Tuesday night on Twitter.

Exonerated “Central Park Five” member Yusef Salaam issued a statement on social media mimicking a full-page ad that Donald Trump issued 34 years ago that has become a flashpoint in Trump's political rise.

Salaam's open letter refers to an ad Trump placed in several New York newspapers in 1989, calling for the state to bring back the death penalty and strengthen policing in the city after the brutal beating and rape of a female jogger in Central Park.

Salaam and four friends, known as the "Central Park Five," were falsely accused of the crime and imprisoned.

“Over 30 years ago, Donald Trump took out full page ads calling for my execution,” Salaam tweeted. “On the day he was arrested and arraigned, here is my ad in response.”

Trump was arraigned in New York City on Tuesday and charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He pleaded not guilty.

Salaam’s full-page open letter called out Trump’s actions toward him and his peers even after the government clear them of the Central Park attack.

“On May 1, 1989, almost thirty-four years ago, Donald J. Trump spent $85,000 to take out full-page ads in The New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post and New York Newsday, calling for the execution of the Central Park Five,” Salaam wrote, “an act he has never apologized for, even after someone else confessed to and was convicted of the crime, the convictions of all five of us were overturned, and we were renamed the Exonerated Five.”

The letter goes on to explain how Trump “continued to incite animus” against Salaam, his peers and their families. (Trump's ads did not specifically call for the five defendants' execution.)

Central Park Jogger Jury Selection
Yusef Salaam, back right, and Antron McCray, front left, leave court on June 13, 1990.Marc Vodofsky / New York Post via Getty Images file

Salaam was charged along with four other Black and Latino men — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise — in 1989 for raping and beating jogger Trisha Meili. The five were released from prison after Matias Reyes confessed to the crime in 2002.

Last week, upon the news breaking that Trump would face charges, Salaam simply tweeted "Karma," which Santana also used in tweets this week. 

Yusef Salaam on March 1, 2023, in New York.
Yusef Salaam in New York on March 1.Frank Franklin II / AP file

Trump refused to apologize to the group, which later became known as the Exonerated Five, after a reporter asked him about it in June 2019, saying that “they admitted their guilt” during the trial. The case found that the five teenagers had falsely confessed under pressure. McCray revealed in a 2019 interview with NBC News that he had lied because his father told him to tell the police what they wanted to hear.

Salaam doubled down on condemning Trump’s actions, writing, “You were wrong then, and you are wrong now.” He also wrote he will not “resort to hatred, bias or racism” and that he wishes Trump “no harm.” 

“Rather, I am putting my faith in the judicial system to seek out the truth,” he wrote. “I hope that you exercise your civil liberties to the fullest, and that you get what the Exonerated 5 did not get — a presumption of innocence, and a fair trial.”