Former New York City prosecutor Linda Fairstein has been getting dragged on social media since last month’s release of the Ava DuVernay Netflix series When They See Us, about the wrongful conviction of five Black and Brown teens for a brutal 1989 rape and attack.
Now that Fairstein, who ran the Manhattan district attorneys office sex crimes unit and was the primary figure behind prosecuting the Central Park Five, issued a bristling response through a Wall Street Journal opinion piece published on Monday in which she calls the series an “outright fabrication,” DuVernay has taken to Twitter to say she is not impressed.
DuVernay’s four-part Netflix film portrays Fairstein, who is now a successful crime novel author, in a vicious light. The film recreates conversations in which Fairstein allegedly pushes for the concealment of evidence on a sock from the scene that included no DNA from the defendants, but did have DNA from Matias Reyes, the man who ultimately confessed to the crime.
Expected and typical. Onward… https://t.co/phJtFpvH0a
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) June 11, 2019
As the public buzzed about her brusque, yet self-convinced essay in which she still insists the five men, now in their 40s, were guilty of other crimes in Central Park that took place the night of April 19, 1989, Fairstein’s professional life has undergone a public implosion.
She has resigned from the board of her alma mater, Vassar College, from the board of Safe Horizon, a nonprofit that advocates for victims of domestic violence and other abuse, and has been dragged so much on Twitter that she had to disable her account. A #CancelLindaFairstein hashtag has circulated since Netflix debuted the series on May 31.
Adding to the stew was DuVernay’s revelation in a Daily Beast article that Fairstein tried to manipulate the When They See Us script and have a say in how she was portrayed. The director said she reached out to Fairstein, to the victim, Trisha Meili, and to the prosecutor, Elizabeth Lederer, and none wanted to talk with her about the project.
“Linda Fairstein actually tried to negotiate,” DuVernay told the news organization. “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.”