The outrage over Ava DuVernay‘s “When They See Us” has caused Elizabeth Lederer, the lead district attorney on the case that locked up Black children in April of 1989, to resign from Columbia University. In addition, Linda Fairstein, the original prosector on the case, was dropped from her publisher and forced to leave several boards. Now there are calls for all of their cases to be revisted considering they stole the innocence of Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise. However, Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance is refusing.
On Friday, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams along with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, the Legal Aid Society and the New York County Defender Services called for a review of 26 years’ worth of Lederer’s cases. They also demanded that she be fired — she has been employed bu New York County DA’s office for 40 years.
According to the New York Daily News, Cyrus Vance replied with, “I do not intend to take either action at this time” and said Lederer is “an attorney in good standing in this office.” Sounds like locking up children is “good standing” for his office.
Lederer resigned from Columbia University in a letter to faculty and students that read in part, “I’ve enjoyed my years teaching at CLS, and the opportunity it has given me to interact with the many fine students who elected to take my classes. However, given the nature of the recent publicity generated by the Netflix portrayal of the Central Park case, it is best for me not to renew my teaching application.”
The law school dean, Gillian Lester, also added the mini-series “reignited a painful — and vital — national conversation about race, identity, and criminal justice” and “I am deeply committed to fostering a learning environment that furthers this important and ongoing dialogue, one that draws upon the lived experiences of all members of our community and actively confronts the most difficult issues of our time.”
In 2002, the five men were exonerated by the New York State Supreme Court only because a fellow inmate came forward to confess — even though there was never any DNA evidence linking them to the crime. Linda Fairstein and even our current president still insist they are guilty. As for Lederer, she has not spoken out publicly about the case.
Watch the powerful trailer for “When They See Us” below, which is available on Netflix.