Woman apologizes after video goes viral of her calling police on black birdwatcher in Central Park
A white woman who was seen in a viral video calling the police and falsely accusing a black birdwatcher of threatening her in New York’s Central Park has apologized following the dispute over her unleashed dog.
Amy Cooper offered an apology to the man, Christian Cooper, in an interview with WNBC on Monday night.
“It was unacceptable. And words are just words and I can’t undo what I did,” Amy Cooper said. “But I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man and his family.”
In a statement to CNN, Amy Cooper insisted that she did not mean to harm the African American community.
“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she said, adding that she was scared because she was alone in a wooded area.
Since the video was posted, she told CNN that her “entire life is being destroyed right now.”
The apology came after Christian Cooper — who is not related to Amy Cooper — recorded their interaction on Memorial Day. The video has since been viewed more than 21 million times on Twitter as of Tuesday morning.
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm
— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
Christian Cooper told The Washington Post that he had gotten up early to go bird-watching in Central Park’s Ramble, a heavily wooded area designed to look like a garden.
He said that around 7:30 a.m., he noticed a cocker spaniel digging in an area and asked the dog’s owner, Amy Cooper, if she would leash up her dog.
There are signs posted about the leash requirements in the park, and Christian Cooper said he tried to toss a dog treat to the pooch when she refused.
Christian Cooper began recording the incident and is heard asking the dog owner not to come close to him.
Wearing a face mask and work out leggings, Amy Cooper then responds by saying she will call the police.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she said in the video.
“Please tell them whatever you’d like,” he responded.
It appears that she did make a call and becomes more frantic, despite Christian Cooper being several feet away and not moving any closer to her.
“He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog,” she says all the while holding onto her dog’s collar.
The 2-year-old dog, named Henry, yelps a little and struggles while she is on the phone.
Christian Cooper told the outlet that he encouraged her to call the police because he knew it was his only option.
“I can be racially intimidated and kowtow to her,” he said, but “I’m not going to participate in my own dehumanization.”
A spokesman for the New York Police Department told the Post that officers responded to a report of an assault at 8:10 a.m. but found only a woman on the scene and issued no summonses and made no arrests.
The interaction went viral, as thousands of social media users compared the incident to other examples of white people calling the police on black people.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) weighed in on the video on Tuesday morning, tweeting that the incident was “racism, plain and simple.”
The video out of Central Park is racism, plain and simple.
She called the police BECAUSE he was a Black man. Even though she was the one breaking the rules. She decided he was the criminal and we know why.
This kind of hatred has no place in our city. https://t.co/6PP7jIwL1g
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 26, 2020
“I don’t think there’s an African American person in America who hasn’t experienced something like this at some point,” Christian Cooper, a 57-year-old science editor, said. “I don’t shy away from confronting the scofflaw when I see it. Otherwise, the park would be unusable — not just to us birders but to anybody who enjoys the beauty.”
The hashtag #FireAmyCooper began trending on Twitter when she was identified in the clip, with many calling for her to be charged with making a false police report.
#AmyCooper said, “Her entire life is being destroyed right now.” But she had NO PROBLEM trying to destroy a Black man’s life with her lies. She knew exactly what she was doing and now she is on her “I’m the real victim” tour. https://t.co/lb9mjoOoT4
— Hannah Drake (@HannahDrake628) May 26, 2020
A Pennsylvania state lawmaker, Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D), also weighed in, saying the incident was “disgraceful.”
Making a false police report is a crime. I prayerfully assume choking your dog is a crime in all states. #AmyCooper and others like her, that try to use the cops as a weapons, should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Disgraceful.
— Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (@malcolmkenyatta) May 26, 2020
Amy Cooper’s employer, investment firm Franklin Templeton, released a statement saying that she had been placed on administrative leave.
“We take these matters very seriously, and we do not condone racism of any kind,” the firm wrote on Twitter.
In response to an incident involving an employee on May 25th, Franklin Templeton issued the following statement. pic.twitter.com/8f2lMwK0r5
— Franklin Templeton (@FTI_US) May 26, 2020
The animal shelter where Amy Cooper had adopted Henry said that she voluntarily surrendered the dog back to the rescue while the matter is being addressed.
Despite the physical actions of the dog’s owner in the video, Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue Inc. said in a statement that Henry is “safe and in good health.”
“I’m not interested in repercussions,” Christian Cooper told the Post. “It’s unfortunate what happened. There was definitely a lapse in judgment. But she put the dog on the leash, and I don’t need to see anything else happen to her.”
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