The villain at the center of Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us is Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor at the center of the Central Park case back in 1989, played by Felicity Huffman. Fairstein’s motives as depicted in the miniseries were well-intentioned — prosecute the sh*t out of sexual crimes — but they belied her ruthless, loathsome actions — prosecuting essentially five random Black kids for crimes they did not commit. Her advocacy for women was clearly undercut by her indifference to Black people, and for 30 years, she mostly got away with it (although, her so-called advocacy for women was also undercut by the fact that she helped to silence one of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers).
Thanks to DuVernay’s miniseries, however, the past is finally catching up to Fairstein. On social media, her actions as depicted in Whey They See Us sparked a boycott of her mystery novels. Now, Fairstein is being forced off a number of boards. She resigned yesterday as a member of the board of trustees of Vassar College, her alma mater, thanks to a petition from students that quickly gained 13,000 signatures. Fairstein was also forced to resign from Safe Horizon, a nonprofit servicing victims of domestic abuse in New York City. She has also had to step down from the boards of charitable organizations God’s Love We Deliver and the Joyful Heart Foundation.
Fairstein, who deleted her social media in the wake of the miniseries, is holding DuVernay responsible for the backlash, telling The Daily Beast that “[Ava DuVernay]’s behind it. Her lies are behind it all.”
Fairstein said that presents “a totally and completely untrue picture of events and my participation,” including “putting words in my mouth that I never said in Oliver Stone fashion”—such as ordering the cops to conduct an indiscriminate sweep of Harlem for “black males” and “thugs.” She said DuVernay erred in showing her dismissing DNA evidence that exonerated the five, and placing her at times, dates, and locations where she had never appeared.
OK, did Fairstein engineer the prosecution of five innocent kids for a crime they didn’t commit? Yes, yes she did. Did Fairstein continue to insist they were still guilty even after evidence exonerating them surfaced? Yes, yes she did. Whatever liberties DuVernay took or did not take doesn’t erase the fact that Fairstein orchestrated the prosecution and imprisonment of five Black kids despite the lack of evidence. She ignored justice, and now she’s finally getting a small but well-deserved taste of it.
Source: The Daily Beast
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