TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - A man who spent years of his life in prison for a crime he and others did not commit shared his story at the University of Alabama on Monday.
Yusef Salaam was one of five teens wrongly accused in the rape and beating of a female jogger in New York’s Central Park.
Salaam admitted being wrongly convicted changed him. Instead of being known as one of the Central Park Five, he’s prefers to be known as a member of the Exonerated Five.
Salaam was just 15 years-old in 1989 when police accused them raping a woman in Central Park and leaving her for dead. They were in prison until 2002 when their convictions were vacated after DNA evidence proved none of them were involved in the attack and the person responsible confessed.
Salaam now educates people on issues dealing with false confessions and police brutality and misconduct. Salaam is speaking during the Martin Luther King Junior lecture.
“We were pariahs, we were seen as the scum of the earth and as a result of that, many of us were hiding in plain sight. We couldn’t just move on with our lives and wasn’t just that simple. It was about we survived miraculously the criminal justice system,” says Salaam.
Salaam’s speaking event at the University of Alabama Ferguson Center Ballroom was free and open to the public.