Calls Grow For Removal Of Central Park 5 Prosecutor From Hall Of Fame Of Westchester HS

The fallout from the Netflix series “When They See Us,” which depicts the case of the “Central Park 5” continues for former prosecutor Linda Fairstein, who is now hearing calls for her removal from the Mount Vernon High School Hall of Fame.

Linda Fairstein (center) with friends in 2009.
Linda Fairstein (center) with friends in 2009. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The former prosecutor has been in hot water since the release of the Netflix miniseries “When They See Us,” which depicts a dramatization of the trial of the teens who were wrongfully convicted of raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989.

Last week, Fairstein resigned from the Board of Trustees at her alma mater, Vassar College, amid the backlash.

The case came under fire in 2002 when it was determined that the confessions of the Central Park Five had been allegedly coerced and their conviction was overturned. Matias Reyes, a convicted serial rapist, and murderer, eventually confessed to the rape.

Now there are calls - even from Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas - and a petition has been circulating, to remove Fairstein from the high school’s Hall of Fame. The petition has garnered 1,079 signatures as of Tuesday, June 11.

“Many of us around the world have children between the ages of 14-16 just like these 5 (now) men,” the petition states. “One could only imagine that obstacles not only did the teens face but also their families. Many of the families couldn’t afford to travel to see their children in prison while she maintained a healthy lifestyle and lived with her lies! 

"She does not deserve to be in the MVHS hall of Fame. She is not a representation of what this city’s values are, which is to educate and protect our black and brown boys.”

In a letter to the editor of the New York Law Journal, Fairstein said that “the confessions were not coerced. The questioning was respectful, dignified, carried out according to the letter of the law and with sensitivity to the young age of the men.”

Thomas said he has already reached out to school district to have her removed from the Hall of Fame.

“There are some people in the Hall of Fame at Mount Vernon High School, including a lady by the name of Linda Fairstein, and look, there’s a lot of truths coming out from that dark past of people being falsely accused,” he said. “Some of y’all know it as the Central Park Five, but with facts and time, people get to see that the truth is the truth and those Central Park Five guys, who had their lives literally ruined because of someone that happened to be from Mount Vernon who is declared to be famous, but I think she’s infamous.

“As we seek to build up and build upon our strong history, there are some parts of our past that we have to make sure we acknowledge, and deal with, and whatever reconciliation has to happen, has to happen.” 

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