Edgar Villanueva

As one of the Central Park Five, Dr. Yusef Salaam spent nearly seven years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. His story has re-entered national conversation as Ava DuVernay’s new Netflix miniseries tells the story of this important and controversial case. At this live morning event, Chanda and Yusef sat down to talk about his story, his thoughts about the criminal justice system, and his hopes for the future.

That same evening, we hosted a community event that featured Yusef and a panel of Minnesota’s top law enforcement officials — Attorney General Keith Ellison, Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. See the video of this conversation below. You can find more videos from this event on our YouTube page.

About Yusef

In 1989, five teenagers of color, labeled the Central Park Five, were convicted of a rape they did not commit. One of those boys, Dr. Yusef Salaam, was just 15 years old when his life was upended and changed forever. In 2002, after the Central Park Five spent between seven and 13 years of their lives behind bars, their sentences were overturned. Since his release, Yusef has committed himself to advocating and educating people on the issues of false confessions, police brutality and misconduct, press ethics and bias, race and law, and the disparities in America’s criminal justice system. The Central Park Five received a multi-million dollar settlement from the city of New York for its grievous injustice against them. Yusef was awarded an Honorary Doctorate that same year and received the President’s Life Time Achievement Award in 2016 from President Barack Obama. He was appointed to the board of the Innocence Project in 2018.

Learn more about Yusef on his website. You can see photos from these events on The Minneapolis Foundation’s Facebook page.

Keep the Conversation Going

Check out Chanda’s recommendations for books and documentaries that will help you learn more about the criminal justice system and the racial disparities that exist within it.


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