Elizabeth Lederer, one of the lead prosecutors in the 1989 “Central Park Five” case, which resulted in the wrongful conviction of five Black and Latino boys, resigned from her teaching position at Columbia Law School amid demands for her termination.
In a letter sent by Dean Gillian Lester on June 12, Lederer said she is not seeking reappointment as a part-time lecturer at Columbia Law after the Netflix drama When They See Us reignited backlash.
Following the release of Ava DuVernay’s miniseries, the Columbia Black Students' Organization started a petition criticizing the school’s “inaction” regarding Lederer’s employment status.
Lederer said while she enjoyed her time teaching at Columbia Law, it’s best for her to step down.
“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,” Lederer said. "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 statement said.
Columbia Law Dean Gillian Lester said in her letter to students the series "has reignited a painful — and vital — national conversation about race, identity, and criminal justice."
"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," Lester said.
Linda Fairstein — who also pushed for the conviction of Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam, despite a lack of evidence connecting them to the violent rape of a jogger — also resigned from the board of Vassar College, as well as from the boards of several non-profit organizations.
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