The explosive Netflix series “When They See Us,” which depicts in excruciating detail the so-called Central Park Five being railroaded by New York state into serving prison time for the rape and assault of the Central Park jogger in 1989, has social media demanding book retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble stop selling the mystery novels written by Linda Fairstein.
Fairstein was head of the Manhattan Sex Crimes Unit when Trisha Meili was found nearly dead in the Central Park woods 30 years ago. The four-part Ava DuVernay series, which debuted May 31, portrays her as utterly convinced of the guilt of the five Harlem boys, despite the complete lack of physical evidence that might tie them to the Meili assault.
Three days after the premiere, a #CancelLindaFairstein campaign is going viral — and has even expanded to include one of her publishers, Simon & Schuster, by way of a #BOYCOTTSIMONSCHUSTER tag. Angie Thomas, author of the young adult best-seller “The Hate You Give,” also called out Fairstein’s other publisher, Penguin Random House.
To this day, Fairstein stands by the initial verdicts, even though Mattias Ryes confessed to the crime in 2002 and the convictions against the five young men were vacated. Scores of incensed viewers took to Twitter to register their outrage — and DuVernay herself weighed in on the brewing controversy.
“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,” DuVernay tells the Daily Beast. “So you know what my answer was to that — and we didn’t talk.”
In the fourth episode of “When They See Us,” prosecutor Nancy Ryan (Famke Janssen) confronts Fairstein (Felicity Huffman) about the shoddy work executed by her department — and then stacks the four books Fairstein successfully published while the Central Park Five served six to 14 years in prison.
“Thanks for buying the books,” Fairstein says before leaving Ryan’s table.
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