Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor who helped convict five black and brown boys in April 1989 for the vicious beating and rape of a white female prosecutor has stepped down from Vassar College and the board of directors at God’s Love We Deliver and Safe Horizon nonprofit.
“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,” said Vassar College President Elizabeth Bradley.
Fairstein reportedly worked with God’s Love We Deliver for 20 years, but in the wake of Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series When They See Us, the 72-year-old has merited mountains of backlash because to her handling of the case.
Along with Fairstein stepping down, 88,517 people signed a Change.org petition calling for her crime novels to be removed from retailer’s shelves.
“Linda Fairstein led a witch hunt against five teenage boys even though the physical evidence didn’t support her theory. She raged on with one goal in mind and that was to get a conviction at any expense even the lives of teenage boys,” the petition reads.
On May 31, Netflix premiered the four-part series. Filmed from the vantage point of Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, and Kevin Richardson, DuVernay takes viewers back to New York 1989 in which the teenage boys were corraled by police, instructed to lie on one another, coerced into confessing and sent away to prison.
In 2002 during a chance encounter in Rikers Island, Korey Wise ran into Matias Reyes who confessed to the attack of Trisha Meili in the park. Their sentences were later vacated and in 2014, New York City awarded the five a $41 million settlement.
The city never apologized to the men.