A white woman has apologised after calling the police on a black man and claiming he was threatening her life when he said her dog needed to be on a lead.
The man involved in the incident, Christian Cooper, filmed the scene and shared it online, where it quickly went viral.
Avid birdwatcher Christian explained that he was in a popular bird-watching spot known as The Ramble in New York’s Central Park, when he encountered 41-year-old Amy Cooper (no relation) at around 8.00am local time yesterday, May 25.
You can watch the interaction here:
Dog walkers are required to have their pets on leads in the area, so Christian asked Amy to follow the rules with her own dog.
Speaking to NBC New York, Christian explained:
If the habitat is destroyed we won’t be able to go there to see the birds, to enjoy the plantings.
In a Facebook post, Christian claimed Amy had said her dog ‘needs his exercise’, to which he pointed out that she could let the pooch run around freely in other areas of the park. Amy allegedly responded: ‘It’s too dangerous.’
When Amy continued to refuse to put her dog on a lead, Christian decided to offer her pet a treat in the hopes that she would put the dog on a lead to prevent it from eating it.
The dog walker is said to have ‘scrambled’ to get her dog and yelled: ‘Don’t you touch my dog.’
Christian began filming the encounter, and told NBC that at some point Amy decided to ‘play the race card’.
Amy asked Christian to stop recording, threatening that if he didn’t she was going to call police and say: ‘There’s an African American man threatening my life.’ Christian said he continued recording because he wasn’t going to be intimidated.
We live in an age of Ahmaud Arbery where black men are gunned down because of assumptions people make about black men, black people, and I’m just not going to participate in that.
Christian didn’t appear to move any closer to Amy, but as he continued to record she grabbed her dog’s collar and moved away from him to call the police.
She could be heard saying:
There is an African-American man. I am in Central Park. He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog.
Amy repeated her claims several times, all the while struggling to keep her dog under control and pulling it by its collar.
Christian finally stopped recording when Amy put her dog on a lead, after which Christian said: ‘Thank you’. Officers later arrived at the scene, but by that point Christian had already left. They said no complaint or arrests were made, and dubbed the incident a ‘verbal dispute’.
Speaking about the racially charged incident, as well as another incident of police brutality that happened in Minneapolis, journalist Gayle King said, ‘It feels to me like open season… and that sometimes it’s not a safe place to be in this country for black men.’
Christian’s recording was shared online, with his sister Melody, a writer and director on HBO’s Two-Sentence Horror Stories, nicknaming Amy as a ‘Karen’.
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.
The video has been viewed more than 17 million times at the time of writing, May 26, and Amy has since apologised and said she overreacted, NBC reports.
The dog walker commented:
I sincerely and humbly apologise to everyone, especially to that man, his family. It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologise to everyone who’s seen that video, everyone that’s been offended…everyone who thinks of me in a lower light and I understand why they do.
When I think about the police, I’m such a blessed person. I’ve come to realise especially today that I think of [the police] as a protection agency, and unfortunately, this has caused me to realise that there are so many people in this country that don’t have that luxury.
After the footage went viral, Amy’s employer, investment management company Franklin Templeton, placed her on administrative leave.
Some concerned viewers called for Amy’s dog to be removed from her care due to fears she was choking it in the video, and Amy has since voluntarily returned the dog to Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue.
The rescue centre wrote online:
Thank you to the concerned public for reaching out to us about a video involving a dog that was adopted from our rescue a few years ago. As of this evening, the owner has voluntarily surrendered the dog in question to our rescue while this matter is being addressed.
Our mission remains the health and safety of our rescued dogs. The dog is now in our rescue’s care and he is safe and in good health. We will not be responding to any further inquiries about the situation, either publicly or privately. Thank you for your understanding.
New York Police Sergeant Mary Frances O’Donnell said no one has come forward to police since the call was made on Monday morning.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
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Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue