Woman who called police on Black man bird-watching loses racism lawsuit

Ali Condon

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Woman who called police on Black man bird-watching loses racism lawsuit

Featured Image Credit: CBS News/YouTube

The white woman who falsely accused a Black man of threatening her in New York City's Central Park has lost her lawsuit against her former employer.

Video footage emerged back in 2020 of Amy Cooper calling 911 in hysterics after birdwatcher Christian Cooper (not related) approached her and asked her to put her dog on a lead.

After the viral video of her falsely accusing Mr Cooper of harassing her and 'threatening [her] life' went viral, Ms Cooper was charged with a third-degree misdemeanour crime of falsely reporting an incident.

Although the charges were ultimately dropped, she went on to file a lawsuit against her former employer, investment management company Franklin Templeton, for firing her as a result of the incident, and defaming her by making her out to be a racist.

Amy Cooper went viral after she called 911 on Christian Cooper for approaching her after he asked for her dog to be put on a lead. Credit: Christian Cooper
Amy Cooper went viral after she called 911 on Christian Cooper for approaching her after he asked for her dog to be put on a lead. Credit: Christian Cooper

Within 24 hours of the video going viral, Franklin Templeton released a statement to confirm that Amy, who quickly become known online as 'Central Park Karen', had been fired from the company.

In her lawsuit, Amy argued that her 'personal and professional life has been destroyed by the knowingly false statements defendants made', causing severe emotional stress to the point of feeling suicidal.

She accused the company of failing to perform a full investigation into the incident, and ignored the fact that she'd called police because she was 'palpably distraught and fearful for her safety'.

However, this week, US District Judge Ronnie Abrams rejected Amy Cooper's claims, stating that Franklin Templeton's statements about Ms Cooper wouldn't be considered defamation, since the company didn't share any information that wasn't already public knowledge.

Pointing out that the Central Park incident took place on the same day as George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis, the judge wrote: "The incident received heightened media and public scrutiny, in particular, because it took place 'in the midst of a national reckoning about systemic racism'.

“The contents of the viral video, as well as the dialogue surrounding it both in the media and on social media, were already matters of public knowledge when [the company's] May 26 tweet was posted."

Ms Cooper falsely accused Mr Cooper of 'threatening her life'. Credit: PA Images
Ms Cooper falsely accused Mr Cooper of 'threatening her life'. Credit: PA Images

Speaking to Reuters, a spokesperson for Franklin Templeton stated that they had 'responded appropriately' and were pleased with the ruling.

Lawyers for Amy Cooper have not yet publicly commented on the ruling.

In the original footage of Ms Cooper that was posted online, she can be seen crying on the phone to law enforcement, claiming that Christian Cooper had 'tried to assault her', despite him keeping his distance from her the entire time.

Before making the call, she was heard telling Mr Cooper: ‘I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,’ adding, "I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life."

Naturally, the video immediately sparked outrage on social media as another example of the dangers facing Black men in America.

UNILAD has reached out to Ms Cooper's lawyers and Franklin Templeton for further comment.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

Topics: News, US News, Racism

Ali Condon
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