Last week, Ava DuVernay’s Netflix mini-series When They See Us premiered to stellar reviews. The show follows the case of the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully accused of raping a jogger and jailed for several years as a result. The case further exposed institutional racism in the police force and the abhorrent cruelty experienced by these five black and Latino young men who were mistreated and goaded into false confessions by the NYPD. The current President, you may recall, placed multiple full page newspaper ads declaring that the young men should face the death penalty, and to this day he still belives they’re guilty. But he’s not alone in that aspect. Linda Fairstein believes that too.
Fairstein was the prosecutor who ruthlessly pushed for conviction of these men despite the lack of physical evidence tying them to the case. Fairstein’s behaviour was considered so outrageous that one judge during the case’s appeals in 1993 said of her, ‘Fairstein wanted to make a name. She didn’t care. She wasn’t a human.’ Her name may be more familiar to some nowadays for her involvement in both assisting District Attorney Cyrus Vance in not prosecuting former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn for sexual assault in 2012, and for helping Harvey Weinstein silence one of his accusers, Ambra Battilana, after she filed a police complaint against him in 2015.
Of course, Fairstein has also made a name for herself over the decades as a best-selling author of crime fiction. She built her name as an author off her record as a ‘ball busting’ head of the Manhattan Sex Crimes unit, a ‘badass’ woman in a world of men who fights for the fights of abuse victims. Think Olivia Benson if she were on the law side instead of the order. In 2017, she was featured on CBS Sunday Morning and heralded as an inspiration, both as a public figure and as an author. She even tells people not to give up their dreams, just as she didn’t when she decided to become a mystery writer. Ha. Ha. Ha.
And Fairstein has never apologized for her wrongdoing, for ruining five men’s lives, or for using a woman’s attack as an excuse to go after five young men in colour in the name of promoting her own career. Indeed, as recently as last year, she was defending herself on Twitter in a series of now-deleted tweets towards crime author Attica Locke. When the Mystery Writers of America sought to give her the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement, fellow authors protested until the award was rescinded.
When They See Us has reminded audiences of much cruelty, racism, and systemic abuse at the hands of the authorities in regards to people of colour, but it’s also put Feinstein and her years as a self-styled heroic figure under a harsher spotlight. Fairstein is still writing. Her books still sell. She’s even writing a new series for young readers. She appears at charity events with her pal Mariska Hargitay promoting the rights of abused and battered women, once more positioning herself as a messianic figure for women (read: white upper-middle class women). The cops and the legal system are the heroes in her stories and life, and she’s profited handsomely from that, all off the backs of five young men whose lives she helped to ruin. So hell yeah, people dragged her on Twitter. It was the bloody least we could do.
Glamour Magazine shouting out #WhentheySeeUs. Just so ironic because in 1993, just THREE YEARS after the CP5 were convicted, Glamour awarded #lindafairstein the “Woman of the Year” award. Never rescinded, even after exoneration. If you’re not mad, you’re not paying attention. https://t.co/mXdo8OiQO0— Delilah Benson (@DelilahBenson12) June 1, 2019
So y’all are telling me @LindaFairstein is strait up chilling and writing books right now? I wonder how she sleeps at night? Melatonin? Delusion? The fact that she doesn’t care bc it was a bunch of black boys and she wanted to solve a crime? #WhenTheySeeUs— lil (@bye_lillian) May 31, 2019
It is my sincerest desire that the @ava @WhenTheySeeUs @netflix series does for @LindaFairstein and #ElizabethLederer what the @lifetimetv doc #SurvivingRKelly did for @RKelly and his career. #CentralParkFive— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) June 1, 2019
The #BoycottLindaFairstein hashtag is growing steam on Twitter, but Fairstein won’t see it since she conveniently deleted her account at some point during the past couple of days.
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