Former Central Park Five prosecutor Linda Fairstein under fire following Netflix series
Fairstein (portrayed by Felicity Huffman in the mini-series, pictured at left) was the prosecutor in the Central Park Five case who believed that the five men of color accused of sexually assaulting a white woman were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The mini-series dramatizes and depicts the mishandling of the case surrounding the group of men known as the Central Park Five, with Fairstein having a prominent role.
In her defense she has responded by calling the mini-series a “basket of lies” in a comment made to The Daily Beast.
Her handling of the case has led to a campaign on social media with the trending hashtag on twitter #CancelLindaFairstein. Many are calling for a boycott of her crime series novels featuring the popular Alexandra Cooper character. There is a petition that has since reached over 40,000 signatures calling for retailers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon, to pull her books. In some cases many have called for a complete re-examination of all her previous cases due to her portrayal in the mini-series.
— Yusef Abdus Salaam (@dr_yusefsalaam) June 5, 2019
In spite of the exoneration of Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise as a result of the confession by Matias Reyes, Fairstein has maintained her belief in their guilt.
As recently as last year, Fairstein wrote in the New York Law Journal that, “Two juries heard that the DNA in and on the jogger’s body was not from any of the 5—and still they convicted on the theory that the missing attacker, who had run with the crowd of 32 young men who rioted in the park, had not yet been caught.”
Fairstein also tried to negotiate her involvement with the Netflix mini-series, as director Ava DuVernay recently revealed.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, “[She] actually tried to negotiate,” DuVernay stated, “I don’t know if I’ve told anyone this, but she tried to negotiate conditions for her to speak with me, including approvals over the script and some other things. So you know what my answer was to that, and we didn’t talk.”
The mounting pressure and increased scrutiny that Fairstein is facing has led to her resignation as a trustee on the board of her alma mater. She graduated from Vassar College in 1969 before heading up the sex crimes unit at the Manhattan district attorney’s office from 1976 to 2002, when she retired to become a successful crime novelist.
“I am told that Ms. Fairstein felt that, given the recent widespread debate over her role in the Central Park case, she believed that her continuing as a board member would be harmful to Vassar,” Vassar College President Elizabeth H. Bradley wrote in an online message.
Linda Fairstein has since deleted her Twitter account as the campaign against her continues. ~Paolo Maquiraya
To read our review of When They See Us, click here.