Woman facing charges for calling police on black birdwatcher in Central Park
6 July 2020, 19:45
A white woman who called the police on a black birdwatcher in New York's Central Park is facing charges over the incident.
Amy Cooper, 41, was filmed by Christian Cooper, 57, in late-May calling authorities on him after he asked her to put her dog on a lead.
Cooper, who is not related to Mr Cooper, was caught on camera telling him she would report him as an "African-American man" who was "threatening her life".
She now faces charges of filing a false report to police, a crime which carries a sentence of up to a year in prison.
Today Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance announced: “Today our office initiated a prosecution of Amy Cooper for falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.
"We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable.”
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
Cooper has been issued a desk appearance ticket and will be arraigned on 14 October.
According to the New York Times, if convicted, Cooper will be given a conditional discharge or sentenced to community service or counseling rather than prison.
The incident sparked a wider conversation about the history of white people reporting black people for supposed crimes.
The clip was posted on Twitter by Mr Cooper's sister, writer Melody Cooper, and has been watched over 44 million times.
Melody posted the clip online, writing: "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."
After the story went viral, the she posted: "My brother & I are so grateful for your concern!"He is fine and left to continue birding after she leashed the dog, as he politely requested.
"I wanted folks to know what happened to make sure it never happens again from her. All she had to do was put her poor dog on the leash."
The dog was temporarily removed from her care following concerns about its welfare, but has now been returned.
Cooper has already lost her job as the head of insurance portfolio management at investment firm Franklin Templeton as result of the incident.
In a statement, the company it does "not tolerate racism of any kind".
Cooper apologised in a public statement and said: "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."