Christian Cooper, a black man and an avid bird-watcher, was out birding in the Ramble – a section of Central Park full of winding paths and thick greenery – when he sees a dog off its leash. This goes against the Ramble’s rules, so Christian Cooper started to tell the owner (Amy Cooper) off for having her dog off-leash. He told CNN, “that’s important to us birders because we know that dogs won’t be off-leash at all, and we can go there to see the ground-dwelling birds. People spend a lot of money and time planting in those areas as well. Nothing grows in a dog run for a reason.” After the two continued to quarrel, Christian Cooper started filming Amy Cooper.
In the video, Amy Cooper tells Christian Cooper that she is going to call the police. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she says. Then she tells the police, “There’s a man, African American, he has a bicycle helmet. He is recording me and threatening me and my dog.” While she is saying this, her dog appears to be straining and trying to get free while she tries to restrain it.
After the video was posted, Amy Cooper defended herself by saying “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.” Also, Christian Cooper accepted her apology saying, “I think her apology is sincere. I’m not sure that in the apology she recognizes that while she may not be or consider herself a racist, that particular act was definitely racist.”
My take: I do not think that she should be forgiven for her act, to be honest. After this event, she has been fired from her job, and she reports that “her entire life is being destroyed right now.” She was in the wrong and Christian Cooper had not been physical and was not demanding. She should have abided by the park’s rules and had her dog on a leash. If the officers had been similar to other officers who had murdered black people because of false accusations by white people, then Christian Cooper would be murdered. She should not be excused from her act just because of a simple mistake. Without the post going viral, would she have not realized her mistake and kept doing them? She took advantage of a toxic and deadly racial stereotype for an ephemeral gain. She knew what she was doing, as she had forewarned Christian Cooper of her intention, just how dangerous the possible outcome of her lie could have been. I’m going to open the floor for others to respond with their take on this event.
Originally published June 7