CREDO Action

Tell Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to reopen Linda Fairstein's cases

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Petition to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance reads:

"Reopen every case Linda Fairstein was assigned during her tenure as deputy district attorney in the Manhattan office from 1972 to 2002 and do an independent investigation and audit to ensure your office was not responsible for other false convictions."

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    Tell Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to reopen Linda Fairstein's cases

    They served 37 years in prison, collectively, for a crime they did not commit. The "Exonerated Five" ‒ formerly infamously known as the "Central Park Five" ‒ went to jail as teenagers and lost years of their lives before DNA evidence and another man's confession exonerated them.1

    The woman responsible is Linda Fairstein, who spent 30 years as a prosecutor in the Manhattan DA's office. Fairstein oversaw lengthy and inhumane interrogations and prosecuted the children despite a complete lack of physical evidence. To this day, despite their exoneration, she claims they were guilty of "something."2

    Fairstein oversaw hundreds of cases as a prosecutor. No one knows how many other false convictions she secured based on overzealous tactics and racist assumptions about guilt. That's why we're joining forces with Justice League NYC, BYP100, Color Of Change, Daily Kos and other partners across the country to demand that Manhattan DA Cy Vance immediately reopen all of Fairstein’s cases and conduct an independent audit to make sure Fairstein did not wrongfully convict others.

    Tell Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to reopen Linda Fairstein's cases.

    The four-part Netflix documentary "When They See Us" sparked a wave of outrage against Fairstein. Director Ava DuVernay's series unsparingly depicts the unjust and racist prosecution of five Black children ‒ Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise ‒ for the brutal beating and rape of a woman in New York's Central Park in 1989. There was no physical evidence linking them to the crime, and the forced confessions elicited after 24 hours of interrogation without food or water did not match the details of the assault. In 2002, all five were exonerated after another man confessed and provided a matching DNA sample, and the five later reached a settlement with the city of New York for millions in damages.3

    Fairstein forced through the prosecution and insists on their guilt despite the truth being revealed. She attempted to control how DuVernay's documentary depicted her and continues using her media platform to slur her victims and insist on their guilt despite their exoneration. She has support from her most famous backer, Donald Trump, who in 1989 took out a full-page advertisement calling for the death penalty for the five. Like Fairstein, he insists on their guilt to this day.4

    The boycott resulting from the documentary already cost Fairstein her ability to profit off of her appalling track record. Her literary agent and publisher dropped her in the wake of the series' release, and she stepped down from the boards of several organizations.5 But none of this compares to the possibility that other innocent people are sitting behind bars thanks to her actions.

    Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is digging in his heels but facing rising pressure for an independent audit of Fairstein's hundreds of convictions. We need to turn up the pressure right now.

    Tell Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to reopen Linda Fairstein's cases.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. Kate Storey, "When They See Us Sparked a Boycott Against Central Park Five Prosecutor Linda Fairstein," Esquire, June 7, 2019.
    2. Elie Mystal, "Linda Fairstein Is Still Trying to Take Down the Central Park Five," The Nation, June 13, 2019.
    3. Lauren Cook, "Central Park Five: What to know about the jogger rape case," AM New York, June 18, 2019.
    4. Ibid.
    5. Storey, "When They See Us Sparked a Boycott Against Central Park Five Prosecutor Linda Fairstein."
    6. Photo: Gregory Pace/FilmMagic