Netflix’s When They See Us ignites calls to reopen cases led by Central Park Five prosecutor

Former Manhattan District Attorney Linda Fairstein, now a bestselling crime author, is also being targeted with a book boycott.

June 03, 2019
Netflix’s <i>When They See Us</i> ignites calls to reopen cases led by Central Park Five prosecutor Linda Fairstein at "Safe Horizons presents an evening inside Law and Order:SVU" November 15, 2004.   Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

Former Manhattan District Attorney and bestselling crime fiction author Linda Fairstein is the prosecutor who led the case against the Central Park Five in 1989. Fairstein is facing growing calls for her old cases to be reopened and her books boycotted in the wake of Netflix's new series When They See Us.

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The Ava DuVernay-directed limited true crime series follows the case of five Black and Latino children who were wrongfully convicted of assaulting and raping a jogger in 1989. The defendants long held that they were coerced and intimidated into confessing — in 2002 their sentences were vacated after an incarcerated rapist named Matias Reyes admitted to committing the crime alone.

New York Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, as well as Women's March co-founders Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour were among the prominent voices calling on New York to reopen Fairstein's cases:

Instagram accounts for book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble have been flooded with comments calling for a boycott of Fairstein's books. Raymond Santana, one of the Central Park Five, supported the effort in an interview with TMZ. "Even if it's 30 years later, she has to pay for her crime," Santana said.

Speaking with The Daily Beast, DuVerney discussed the unusual terms Fairstein set for an interview as scripts were being written for When They See Us. "Linda Fairstein actually tried to negotiate. I don’t know if I’ve told anyone this, but 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."

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Netflix’s When They See Us ignites calls to reopen cases led by Central Park Five prosecutor