Home / News / Linda Fairstein Claims ‘When They See Us’ Is Full Of “Falsehoods” In Wall Street Journal Article

Linda Fairstein Claims ‘When They See Us’ Is Full Of “Falsehoods” In Wall Street Journal Article

Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor who is responsible for the false imprisonment of the newly dubbed “Exonerated Five,” has lost her publishing deal and stepped down from numerous high power positions following the release of ‘When They See Us.’ The backlash has seemingly been too much for Fairstein and at approximately 7:30 p.m. on June 10, she published an article entitled, “Netflix’s False Story of the Central Park Five” with the Wall Street Journal, telling her side of the story in comparison to Ava DuVernay’s depiction of the events on April 19, 1989.

“So it is with filmmaker Ava DuVernay in the Netflix miniseries “When They See Us,” a series so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication,” the former prosecutor wrote.

Fairstein claimed on that April night, a group of 30 rioters descended on Central Park and began attacking innocent people, including the Central Park jogger Trisha Meili. “Eight others were attacked, including two men who were beaten so savagely that they required hospitalization for head injuries,” her article read. She said reporters and filmmakers have been aware of that fact for years but have always put their focus on the five boys and one jogger instead of the full scope of the incident. Fairstein said more than 15 teenagers were apprehended that night after attacking multiple victims.

In 2002, when Matias Reyes (who she called a “psychopath”) confessed to the Meili attack, Fairstein wrote that reporters and filmmakers still made it seem as though there was no basis to charge the five back in 1989. Fairstein claims there was more than enough evidence to support convictions of first-degree assault, robbery, riot and other charges against the five boys.

She wrote, “It shouldn’t have been hard for Ms. DuVernay to discover the truth. The facts of the original case are documented in a 117-page decision by New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Galligan… Instead she has written an utterly false narrative involving an evil mastermind (me) and the falsely accused (the five).” Fairstein continued, “Ms. DuVernay’s film attempts to portray me as an overzealous prosecutor and a bigot, the police as incompetent or worse, and the five suspects as innocent of all charges against them. None of this is true.”

What she called the series’ “first egregious falsehood” was the portrayal that the suspects were held without food, deprived of their parents’ company and not allowed to use the restroom. Fairstein wrote, “If that had been true, surely they would have brought those issues up and prevailed in pretrial hearings on the voluntariness of their statements, as well as in their lawsuit against the city. They didn’t, because it never happened.”

Fairstein debunked her arrival at the precinct the following day after the attack, stating she didn’t arrive until 8 p.m., although the movie depicts her being there early the next morning.  She also said the unethical policing and racist remarks made in the series were not remarks she ever made.

In regards to Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise, Fairstein wrote that the two boys were not picked up on the street but rather at Salaam’s home because they were both named by other “rioters” as participants in the attacks. She said the scene in the series where it is depicted that she demanded a birth certificate from Salaam’s mother to prove his age was false. Fairstein wrote, “The truth is that Mr. Salaam himself claimed to be 16 and even had a forged bus pass to “prove” it. When I heard his mother say he was 15, I immediately halted his questioning. This is all supported by sworn testimony.”

In her article, Fairstein claimed there was more evidence besides the coerced confessions from the boys. She wrote, “There is, for example, the African-American woman who testified at the trial—and again during the 2002 re-investigation—that when Korey Wise called her brother, he told her that he had held the jogger down and felt her breasts while others attacked her. There were blood stains and dirt on clothing of some of the five. And then there are the statements of more than a dozen of the other kids who participated in the park rampage. Although none of the others admitted joining in the rape of Trisha Meili, they admitted attacking male victims and a couple on a tandem bike, and each of them named some or all of the five as joining them.”

Linda Fairstein said, “Mr. Salaam took the stand at his trial and was represented by a lawyer chosen and paid for by his mother, and testified that he had gone into the park carrying a 14-inch metal pipe—the same type of weapon that was used to bludgeon both a male schoolteacher and Ms. Meili.” She also claimed, “In their original confessions—later recanted—they admitted to grabbing her breasts and legs, and two of them admitted to climbing on top of her and simulating intercourse. Semen was found on the inside of their clothing, corroborating those confessions.”

Fairstein wrote about Reyes’ confession, the DNA match, and his claim that he acted alone. She stated the confession is why the rape charges against the five were vacated. “I agreed with that decision, and still do. But the other charges, for crimes against other victims, should not have been vacated.”

She ended her article, saying, “It is a wonderful thing that these five men have taken themselves to responsible positions and community respect. That Ms. DuVernay ignored so much of the truth about the gang of 30 and about the suffering of their victims—and that her film includes so many falsehoods—is nonetheless an outrage. Ms. DuVernay does not define me, and her film does not speak the truth.”

Are we buying this y’all? Or nah?

Linda Fairstein Nixed
Nantucket Book Festival

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