Columbia Black Law Student Association Successfully Push Lecturer And Central Park Five Lead Prosecutor To Resign
First comes Linda Fairstein, now it is Elizabeth Lederer's time to face the music.
June 14, 2019 at 2:51 pm
The lead prosecutor involved in the Central Park Five jogger-rape case has resigned from her post at Columbia Law School.
Elizabeth Lederer stepped down as a lecturer at the prestigious law school Wednesday, according to The New York Times. The law professor's resignation came after the release of Ava DuVernay'sWhen They See Us docuseries on Netflix, which sparked renewed calls for the prosecutors to be held accountable.
The power of storytelling in When They See Us turns the tables on ‘The Exonerated 5’ prosecutors Linda Fairstein + Elizabeth Lederer. Fairstein has been dropped by her publisher, resigned from board of trustees at Vassar College; Lederer departs faculty at Columbia Law School. pic.twitter.com/OnHBWHmdyP— BLACK GIRLS ROCK! (@BLACKGIRLSROCK) June 13, 2019
Lederer along with fellow prosecutor Linda Fairstein got successful convictions of five Black and Hispanic teens accused of raping a white jogger in 1989. Convicted serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes confessed to the heinous act. However, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Kharey Wise were not exonerated until 2002. Over the next two decades, the Central Park Five have worked diligently to clear their names.
In addition to serving as a part-time lecturer at Columbia, Lederer is also a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Gillian Lester, the dean of the school, sent out an email detailing the Lederer's choice to not seek reappointment stating the show “reignited a painful — and vital — national conversation about race, identity, and criminal justice.”“Given the nature of the recent publicity generated by the Netflix portrayal of the Central Park case,” Lederer's statement said. “It is best for me not to renew my teaching application.”
Members of the Black Law Students Association also spearheaded a movement on campus forcing the former Central Park Five prosecutor to step down. In a letter made available online, they credit DuVernay's docuseries for giving them the strength to fight for change and challenge Lederer.
“Ava Duvernay’s powerful film has shed light on details of a story some of us know too well,” the letter said. It added, “We ask that Columbia Law School take action with us, and in doing so, demonstrate its commitment to training and educating lawyers who will go on to impact people’s lives and affect their communities.”
Subsequent tweets also called for the school to implement inclusion training and other diversity initiatives to better serve all law students.
While we are pleased with this announcement, we recognize there is much work to be done. We hope to work with the administration, faculty, and students to implement mandatory trainings for all faculty, and to ensure more inclusivity in the classroom. pic.twitter.com/qDp8rR4y13— Columbia BLSA (@columbia_blsa) June 12, 2019
Within the past two weeks, the popularity of "When They See Us," has led to Fairstein's longtime publisher dropping her. She also was forced to resign from two non-profit boards in wake of the social media criticism. Unlike her Lederer, Fairstein has not gone gently into the night. The famed crime author wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling "When They See Us" a false portrayal of the case.