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June 17, 2019

Central Park 5 prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer resigns as Columbia law prof after black student protest

June 13, 2019
(Diane Bondareff/AP)

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Lederer, a prosecutor in the overturned Central Park 5 conviction, resigned Wednesday from Columbia Law School where she served as a part-time professor after a group of black students called on her to quit.

Controversy over the conviction of the men has been reignited after the release of an fictionalized version of the events, called “When They See Us,” airing on Netflix.

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“The mini-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,” Dean Gillian Lester told Bloomberg News.

The Black Law Students Association, calling Lederer’s actions “racist,’ demanded on Tuesday that the administration dump her from the faculty where she serves as a lecturer in law.

They also want Columbia Law School to revamp its curriculum to battle what they call institutionalized racism in the legal system.

“Columbia Law School should fire Elizabeth Lederer but that is just a start,” reads the letter. “The school needs to address the racism in how the law is taught.”

They claim thousands of Columbia students have signed petitions demanding the firing of Lederer.

Lederer is taking new heat after the release of a blockbuster new Netflix documentary about the wrongful conviction of five young black men for a 1989 attack on a white jogger in the park. She was the main prosecutor on the case along with Linda Fairstein, who is now a fiction writer.

Related Gallery

Timeline of the Central Park 5 case

Students say they pushed for Lederer’s ouster six years ago but Columbia took no action except to remove a reference to the Central Park case in her official biography on the school’s web site.

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