Central Park 5 prosecutor Linda Fairstein is firing back in the wake of criticism she’s received following the premiere of Netflix’s “When They See Us.”
The mini-series tells the stories of the Central Park 5, five African American and Latino boys who were convicted in 1990 for the sexual assault of a female jogger in New York City's Central Park. All five were exonerated in 2002, after a convicted serial rapist confessed to the crime and investigators linked his DNA to the scene. The controversial case garnered attention across the country, bringing focus to police brutality and the role racism plays in the justice system.
Ava DuVernay’s retelling of the infamous case has once again brought the story to national attention, shining a spotlight on those accused of coercing the boys into their initial confessions — including prosecutor Fairstein. This has led Fairstein, in an op-ed published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal, to accuse the miniseries of defaming her and being an “outright fabrication.”
“Ms. DuVernay’s film attempts to portray me as an overzealous prosecutor and a bigot, the police as incompetent or worse, and the five suspects as innocent of all charges against them. None of this is true,” Fairstein wrote, according to the New York Post.
The alleged “falsehoods” in the film include claims that the boys were not allowed to eat, use the bathroom, or see their parents when they were in police custody, according to the outlet. Fairstein claimed, “If that had been true, surely they would have brought those issues up and prevailed in pretrial hearings on the voluntariness of their statements, as well as in their lawsuit against the city. They didn’t, because it never happened.”
Fairstein also described the series as an “utterly false narrative” that portrays her as an “evil mastermind,” CNN reports.
DuVernay and Netflix did not respond to the outlet’s request for comment, but the award-winning director did seem to address Fairstein’s criticism of the series in a brief tweet late Monday, writing, “Expected and typical. Onward...”
Fairstein, who previously criticized the series as a “basket of lies,” has been at the center of controversy since the release of "When They See Us," with many calling for her to be held responsible and uniting under the “CancelLindaFairstein” hashtag. Amid growing backlash, the former prosecutor stepped down from her role on the board of directors of a number of charitable organizations, the New York Post reports.
Fairstein, an author with more than 20 books to her name, was also dropped by her publisher amid blowback following the Netflix release.
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