Last week (May 31), Netflix debuted the latest work from powerhouse director Ava DuVernay, “When They See Us.” The miniseries was inspired by the Central Park jogger case that made national headlines in 1989 when a 28-year-old woman was attacked and raped resulting in the convictions (which were later vacated in 2002) of five teenage boys.
Now that the series has been released and the stories of the wrongfully convicted men are being told in a new way on a large platform such as Netflix, those involved in the infamous case are finding themselves at the center of another wave of backlash.
As reported, author and former Manhattan prosecutor Linda Fairstein has come under enough scrutiny after the release of the miniseries that she has resigned from Vassar College’s board of trustees.
Fairstein, who at the time ran the district attorney’s sex crimes unit, supervised the prosecution and was accused of coercing false confessions out of the five defendants.
After “When They See Us” first aired, the hashtag #CancelLindaFairstein began going viral on social media. On top of that, students at Bassar began an online petition to remove Fairstein from the board. The petition gained enough steam that the school called an executive committee review to discuss the matter.
“The events of the last few days have underscored how the history of racial and ethnic tensions in this country continue to deeply influence us today, and in ways that change over time,” Vassar College President Elizabeth Bradley shared in a statement announcing Fairstein’s resignation.
In addition to resigning from her alma mater’s board, Fairstein has also resigned from Safe Horizon, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting victims of domestic abuse in New York City.
“My hope is that ‘When They See Us’ invites you to think about the overall criminal justice system and all of the people ensnared within it,” DuVernay said of the project. “And this series invites people to think about all the millions of cases that are not dissimilar in many ways from what you’ll see in ‘When They See Us.’”