Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five — a group of teens who were wrongfully convicted of raping a young investment banker on a jog in the park and spent between six and 13 years in prison — said on Saturday’s “AMJoy” that he is “very fearful” of the violent crowds at Donald Trump rallies who “came out of the darkness.”
“These people came out of the darkness and are showing their ugly heads.” Salaam told host Joy-Ann Reid.
He was also scared of “this kind of anger” emerging in a potential Trump presidency.
“When we look at him going around the country and we look in the crowds and we see the people who are there enamored by this man,” Salaam said. “We see the people who are there also protesting Donald Trump’s candidacy, and we see the supporters responding to those individuals, punching them in the face, pushing them, some of them being women and elderly people.”
“So as I see that, and then I hear Donald Trump still continue to be on this platform, it overwhelmingly causes me to be very fearful,” he continued.
Salaam was 16 years old in 1989 when he and four others were accused of the violent rape of Trisha Meili, which left her in a coma for 12 days. The five defendants — four African-American and one Latino — were convicted of multiple charges in two trials and spent years incarcerated. The convictions were vacated in 2002 when Matias Reyes confessed to the crime, and the five received $41 million from the city.
At the time of the incident, a younger Donald Trump fanned the flames by purchasing newspaper ads calling for the five to receive the death penalty. And despite the overturned convictions, he hasn’t changed his tune.
“They admitted they were guilty,” Trump said in a statement to CNN earlier this month. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”