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Reopen Linda Fairstein’s Cases and Hold New York’s Criminal Justice System Accountable

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/06/07/reopen-linda-fairsteins-cases-and-hold-new-yorks-criminal-justice-system

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Color of Change has mounted a petition to Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House: Drop Central Park Five Prosecutor Linda Fairstein

“(…) This isn’t the first time Simon & Schuster has been pushed to drop racist writers from their roster. In 2017 they gave white supremacist Milo Yiannopoulos a six-figure book deal to express his racist, misogynistic, anti-Trans and xenophobic beliefs. However, Color Of Change, along with the support of our members, was able to get Milo’s book deal canceled. We can win again if we stand together. Join us in demanding Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House drop Linda Fairstein. (…)”


Thanks for the link–I missed that one. This story dovetails all too neatly with Jake Johnson’s story about the latest step by the Roberts Court toward turning this country into a full-on police state. I had thought that a movie of this case had already been made. I can’t believe this is only the second comment, although this web site is pretty white and it’s a busy news day.

I appreciated the link also. I signed the petition and wrote:

“When They See Us upset me so much I couldn’t finish the 1st episode. The racism, brutality and inhumanity shown by Ms Fairstein and the NYPD makes ashamed to be an American. In reading about the case in Wikipedia, it’s clear that the ad Donald Trump took out in the NY City newspapers also helped convict these innocent kids. I wish we could cancel his tenure as President.”

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And then you think of ex-Prosecutor Kamala Harris running for president who just loved to prosecut poor parents and send them to jail because their KIDS DITCHED SCHOOL. As if those parents could do anything about stopping it in the first place. What, the parents should have beat their kids into submission, Kamala? Or tied them up? Or lost their crappy jobs when they stayed home to literally take them to school? Or maybe called your friends the cops and had them thrown into YOUR system of injustice?

Anybody else notice that the freaking judges all seem to be an ex-DA and never a public defender attorney? Funny how that is.



As has often been said, the system isn’t broken, it’s doing the perversion it was designed to do. The malfeasance of the media, the NYPD detectives who were working on assault and rape cases that Matias Reyes would admit to committing, including the jogger, Trisha Meili. They knew the MO of the perpetrator. Yet these ‘professionals’ were seemingly unable to make the obvious connections.

The Friday, June 7th Democracy Now program, downloaded at http://publish.dvlabs.com/democracynow/360/dn2019-0607.mp4, has the full show interviewing Ava DuVernay who created the four part series. It’s worth repeating some of the last few minutes of that interview. Referring to the 41 million settlement reached in 1914, Ava Suvernay had this to say:

You know, $41 million, split between the five, does nothing to the fact that no one’s ever apologized for this. The city’s part of their settlement was no apology. Linda Fairstein still maintains that they did it. Elizabeth Lederer, who prosecuted the case, still maintains that they did it. And so, you know, it’s—that’s a pain that they bear that is greater than a dollar amount can be put on. And my great hope is that this piece of art can tell their story loudly enough so that the rest of us can apologize for letting this happen. The public was complicit. The press was, as well.

And we need to be able to demand change when it comes to these cases. This is not an anomaly, this case. You know, it’s not hard to believe that there are five black and brown boys somewhere being interrogated or pulled off the street for something that they didn’t do, that there are people we know behind bars who are only there because they can’t pay to get out, that, you know, the majority of people who are behind bars right now in this country have never seen a trial. The system’s not broken; the system was built this way. It was built this way. And so it’s important for us to understand what it is, so that we can dismantle it and start again. It’s truly—I don’t think it’ll be in my lifetime or yours, but this work is important to continue to talk about what has happened here and to bear witness to it, with the goal of making sure that there’s a foundation of knowledge laid so that we can get to a place where it doesn’t continue to happen.

After the interview, Amy Goodman added:

[[While Linda Fairstein, the head of the Sex Crimes Unit who spearheaded the case against the five boys—the real person who committed the rape, Matias Reyes, was still on the loose. He had beaten and attempted to rape a woman in Central Park on April 17, two days before the jogger was assaulted. That first victim gave the police a description of him, saying he had stitches on his chin. A local hospital then gave the police the name Matias Reyes and someone who fit that description. The police never followed up on that lead.

After the five boys were arrested, Reyes went on to beat and rape five women, murdering one of them, Lourdes Gonzalez, a pregnant mother of three. Matias Reyes was eventually captured when his last rape victim ran down her building’s stairs screaming as he fled and the doorman tackled him. Reyes confessed to several of his crimes, including murder.

Had Fairstein and the New York police investigated the crimes in which Reyes had repeated his MO again and again, rather than racially profiling and framing the five teenage boys, perhaps those rapes and the murder of that young mother might have been prevented.

Journalist Roland Martin tweeted, “It is my sincerest desire that the WhenTheySeeUs series does for Linda Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer what the documentary #SurvivingRKelly did for RKelly and his career.”]]

The arc of Justice does bent slowly, but it does bent in the right direction. If only it could do it within a lifetime.


The settlement was 2014.

Linda Fairstein reminds me of Harry Potter’s nemesis Dolores Umbridge (in more ways than merely visual) https://www.pottermore.com/features/how-dolores-umbridge-made-our-skin-crawl

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In Portland, Oregon an assistant D.A. was exposed for bribing a judge after the judge ruled repeatadly in his favor on issues that would normally have been decided in the defendants favor. The DA has subsquently announced that he will not run for relection.