A white woman, who was being filmed by a black man because the latter thought the woman’s dog was “tearing through the plantings” in Central Park, New York, called the police on the man, insisting on the phone that her life was being threatened by “an African-American man”.
The man, Christian Cooper, posted the video of the altercation with Amy Cooper (no relation) on his Facebook page on Monday. In the 70-second long video, Ms. Cooper could be heard telling Mr. Cooper, “Please, stop. Sir. I am asking you to stop. Sir, I am asking you to stop recording me.”
But Mr. Cooper wrote that he told Ms. Cooper, “Ma’am, dogs in the Ramble have to be on the leash at all times. The sign is right there,” to which Ms Cooper allegedly responded, “The dog runs are closed. He needs his exercise.”
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The area in Central Park where the two confronted each other is called The Ramble, a heavily wooded area. Mr. Cooper said he had been there bird-watching when he chanced upon Ms. Cooper and her dog.
He was concerned about the dog “tearing through the plantings” and was frustrated by Ms. Cooper’s insistence that she was not going to take her unleashed dog away from The Ramble. So he decided to lure Ms. Cooper’s dog.
“I pull out the dog treats I carry for just for such intransigence. I didn’t even get a chance to toss any treats to the pooch before Karen [Ms. Cooper] scrambled to grab the dog.”
After Ms. Cooper allegedly shouted for Mr. Cooper to leave her dog, Mr. Cooper added, “That’s when I started video recording with my iPhone…”.
Ms. Cooper protested to being recorded and pulled out her phone, apparently to make a call. Mr. Cooper reacted, “Please call the cops.”
“I am going to tell them there is an African-American man threatening my life,” Ms. Cooper threatened. On the phone, she is heard telling who was on the other end that Mr. Cooper was threatening her and her dog.
New York police say they received a complaint but have so far dismissed the case. Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN, Ms. Cooper apologized for her reaction to being recorded.
“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she said. Animal shelter Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. has also added that the dog, which was adopted by Ms. Cooper from them, has so far been returned.
But predictably, the issue has generated a furor on Twitter where many African-Americans have re-ignited concerns, dating back to the era of Jim Crow, about how white women would tend to weaponize a presumed fragility in interactions with black people, especially men.
Some have recalled the infamous lynching of Emmett Till in 1943 due to a rumor that he flirted with a white woman. The killing set the growing Civil Rights Movement into motion and a rallying cry was heard nationwide.
In her apology, Ms. Cooper said that she decided to call the police because she felt threatened and needed protection. But author Adrienne Law, had another opinion that seems to be shared by many African-Americans who have had something to say on the matter.
Law tweeted: “Of course, Amy Cooper’s apology is embedded with yet another lie. She claims she saw the police as protective but learned through this incident that not everyone has that “luxury.” Cooper knew police were a threat to the Black bird watcher, which is why she weaponized his race.”
Meanwhile, asset managers Franklin Templeton have forced Ms. Cooper to take administrative leave, tweeting late Monday: “We take these matters very seriously, and we do not condone racism of any kind. While we are in the process of investigating the situation, the employee involved has been put on administrative leave”.