Linda Fairstein, the lead prosecutor in the Central Park Five case, is pushing back on her depiction in Netflix’s When They See Us, calling the series “a basket of lies.”

“She’s behind it. Her lies are behind it all,” she accused of Ava Duvernay, who revealed earlier this week that Fairstein tried to negotiate her involvement on the series during the scriptwriting process.

When They See Us depicts the story of the five Black boys who were falsely accused and convicted of brutally raping Trisha Meili in New York City’s Central Park in April 1989.

After losing their innocence and spending six to 13 years in prison each, a serial rapist confessed to the crime, freeing the young men and exonerating them. Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, and Kevin Richardson eventually received a $41 million settlement from the city of New York in 2014.

Fairstein, who has always stood by the initial verdicts, has also stepped down from multiple boards following the release of the series.

On Tuesday, Fairstein resigned from the boards of the nonprofit Safe Horizon, Vassar College, God’s Love We Deliver and the Joyful Heart Foundation, The Hollywood Reporter noted. It was rumored a day earlier that Safe Horizon employees were unhappy that the former prosecutor was on the board and they were calling for leadership to drop her.

Ethan Herisse as Young Yusef Salaam, and Aunjanue Ellis as Sharonne Salaam

“I do not want to become a lightning rod to inflict damage on this organization, because of those now attacking my record of fighting for social justice for more than 45 years,” Fairstein wrote in a letter to Safe Horizon, obtained by the New York Post.

A social media campaign called #CancelLindaFairstein started trending once the series, which focuses on the 1989 Central Park Five case and its botched investigation, dropped this past weekend. The backlash has also forced Fairstein, now a popular novelist, to shut down her social media accounts.


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