Council Member Yusef Salaam, one of the exonerated Central Park Five who was elected to the City Council last year — decades after he was wrongfully arrested by NYPD officers in 1989 as a teenager — said he was stopped by police on Friday night as the NYPD is pushing back against a bill that would require more transparency on police stops.
“Last night, while driving with my wife and children and listening in to a call with my Council colleagues on speakerphone, I was pulled over by an NYPD officer in my beloved Village of Harlem within the 28th Precinct,” Salaam said in a statement. “I introduced myself as Councilman Yusef Salaam, and subsequently asked the officer why I was pulled over. Instead of answering my question, the officer stated, ‘We’re done here,’ and proceeded to walk away.”
Salaam, the Council’s public safety chair, has become a focal point in an ongoing political spat between Mayor Eric Adams and the Council over a police reporting bill he supports that would require officers to publicly disclose details on all investigatory stops with civilians, including details on race. The bill would require police to report on every “investigatory” stop it makes with civilians and is designed to gather data on just the type of interaction Salaam said he was subject to Friday. The mayor, a former police officer, vetoed the bill and the NYPD has voiced its strong opposition.
“The fact that the officer did not provide a rationale for the stop … calls into question how the NYPD justifies its stops of New Yorkers and highlights the need for greater transparency to ensure they are constitutional,” Salaam’s statement reads.
Spokespeople for the NYPD and mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Salaam had previously agreed to participate in a ride-along with officers on Saturday evening as tensions have mounted between the mayor He said in a statement Saturday afternoon that he would no longer be participating.
Mayor Adams is scheduled to accompany officers in the back of a police car on Saturday evening.
The Council passed the policing bill in December with more than a two-thirds majority. The mayor vetoed the bill last week, calling it overly burdensome on officers and an inadvertent threat to public safety. The Council is planning to override the mayor’s veto on Tuesday.
Salaam was wrongly arrested at 15 — along with four other Black and Latino teenagers — for the 1989 rape and assault of a white woman in Central Park. They were imprisoned for years before being exonerated in 2002. Salaam served nearly seven years in prison.
Elizabeth Kim contributed reporting.