Linda Fairstein has resigned from her positions on multiple boards following the release of Ava DuVernay's Netflix series, “When They See Us,” which chronicles the arrests and eventual exoneration of the Central Park Five.
Fairstein, a former prosecutor who was involved in the case against the five, is facing backlash for her role in their wrongful convictions. The hashtag #CancelLindaFairstein began trending after the show's release and a petition calling for people to stop buying her books has received numerous signatures.
On Tuesday, Vassar College’s president announced that Fairstein had resigned from the board of trustees at her alma mater.
"I am told that Ms. Fairstein felt that, given the recent widespread debate over her role in the Central Park case, she believed that her continuing as a Board member would be harmful to Vassar," President Elizabeth H. Bradley wrote in a letter.
Another New York nonprofit board Fairstein served on, Safe Horizon, also announced she had resigned Tuesday.
She reportedly wrote a letter, obtained by the New York Post, to the board’s chairman, saying, "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 also mentioned that she was “sorry” that staff members at the nonprofit had “declined to meet with me to learn the truths behind the inflammatory and false narrative” and added the series “depicts me, in a fictionalized version of events, in a grossly and maliciously inaccurate manner.”
Fairstein was the head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s unit for sex crimes in 1989 when the five teens – Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana – were wrongly accused and then convicted in connection with the rape and assault of investment banker Trisha Meili as she ran in Central Park.
In the series, Fairstein, played by Felicity Huffman, was portrayed pushing for the prosecution of the teens, despite the lack of evidence.
It wasn’t until 2002 that serial rapist Matias Reyes confessed to the crime and the men were exonerated. They'd all served 6-13 years in prison already. New York City paid a $41 million settlement to the five men in 2014, but the city maintained that police and prosecutors didn’t mishandle the case.
Fairstein has also resigned from her role on the boards at God’s Love We Deliver and the Joyful Heart Foundation, which was founded by actress Mariska Hargitay to aid survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, the New York Post reported.
The five still believe Fairstein should face judgment for her role in their wrongful convictions.
“Even if it's 30 years later, she has to pay...." Santana told TMZ.