when they see us linda fairstein


Netflix’s ‘When They See Us’ ignites call for boycott of prosecutor’s books

Fairstein allegedly tried to 'negotiate' her involvement in the series.


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Jun 3, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 11:23 am CDT

When They See Us, Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series on the Central Park Five, seeks to correct the narrative around the five teens accused and wrongly convicted of assaulting Trisha Meili in 1989. It also put a spotlight on prosecutor Linda Fairstein (played by Felicity Huffman), who was one of the main figures responsible for their coerced confessions.

On Twitter, calls to #CancelLindaFairstein started circulating over the weekend. Fairstein’s Wikipedia page was temporarily altered to show her date of death as May 31, the day When They See Us was released.

More specifically, there were calls to boycott Fairstein’s books. A few years before leaving the Manhattan District Attorney’s sex crimes unit in 2002, the same year the Central Park Five were finally exonerated, Fairstein started publishing crime novels. More recently, she published a series of mystery books for kids. There was a push to get her books taken off platforms like Amazon, and her publisher to drop her. A Change.org petition is calling for her books to be removed from stores.

Her books were bombed with negative reviews on Amazon.

linda fairstein when they see us

People also called Fairstein out for other cases she worked on. In a 2017 interview, New York Times reporter Megan Twohey recalled how Fairstein stepped in to help silence Harvey Weinstein accuser Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. Fairstein, she said, “was willing to facilitate introductions to the current sex crimes prosecutor who was handling the case. And within weeks that case was dead.”

It appears Fairstein deleted her Twitter account, perhaps in anticipation of this reaction. DuVernay told the Daily Beast that Fairstein “tried to negotiate conditions for her to speak with me, including approvals over the script and some other things.” Fairstein has defended the conviction as recently as 2018, even though serial rapist Matias Reyes confessed to the assault in 2002. In November 2018, Fairstein’s Mystery Writers of America Award was rescinded after other writers objected.


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*First Published: Jun 3, 2019, 12:56 pm CDT