The New York City Commission on Human Rights is investigating the white woman walking her dog in New York City who called police to report she was being threatened by “an African-American man.”
“At a time when the devastating impacts of racism in Black communities have been made so painfully clear — from racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes, to harassment of essential workers on the frontlines — it is appalling to see these types of ugly threats directed at one New Yorker by another,” said Sapna Raj, deputy commissioner of the Law Enforcement Bureau at the Commission on Human Rights.
The verbal dispute between Amy Cooper, who has been fired by investment firm Franklin Templeton, and a black man bird watching in Central Park might normally have gone unnoticed in a city preoccupied by the coronavirus pandemic.
That changed when birdwatcher Christian Cooper pulled out his phone and captured Amy Cooper, who the Internet has nicknamed “Central Park Karen,” calling police to report she was being threatened by “an African-American man.” The widely watched video — posted on Facebook by Christian Cooper and on Twitter by his sister — has sparked accusations of racism.
“Efforts to intimidate Black people by threatening to call law enforcement draw on a long, violent and painful history, and they are unacceptable. We encourage Ms. Cooper to cooperate with the Commission and meaningfully engage in a process to address the harm that she has caused,” Raj added in a statement.
The Commission on Human Rights has asked Amy Cooper for her full cooperation.
“The Commission has the authority to fine violators of the law and can award compensatory damages to victims, including emotional distress damages and other benefits,” according to its statement. “The Commission can also order trainings on the NYC Human Rights Law, changes to policies, and develop restorative justice relief such as community service and mediated apologies, in lieu of or in addition to fines and monetary relief.”
The confrontation began early Monday morning when Christian Cooper said he noticed Amy Cooper had let her cocker spaniel off its leash against the rules in the Ramble, a secluded section of Central Park popular with birdwatchers.
In a Facebook post, he claimed the dog was “tearing through the plantings” and he told her she should go to another part of the park. When she refused, he pulled out dog treats, causing her to scream at him to not come near her dog.
Amy Cooper also warned him she would summon police unless he stopped recording.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” Amy Cooper is heard saying in the video as she pulls down her face mask and struggles to control her dog.
“Please call the cops,” Christian Cooper says.
“There’s an African-American man, I’m in Central Park, he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog. … Please send the cops immediately!” she says during the call before he stops recording.
Police say by the time they responded, they were both gone.