Video of a white woman calling the police on a black man in Central Park went viral on Monday after the man asked her to leash her dog. The woman appears to have been placed on administrative leave by her employer and has apologized since.
The video was first posted to Facebook by Christian Cooper, who said he encountered the woman around 8 a.m. walking her dog in the Ramble, a protected nature reserve in Central Park. Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Ramble, whereas in other parts of Central Park dogs must be leashed between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Cooper said he asked the woman to put her dog on a leash; he said she replied by saying that the dog runs were closed and that her dog needed exercise. Cooper said he was going to throw a treat to the dog, when she replied, "Don't you touch my dog." That's when he began filming the incident on his iPhone.
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
"The only way they can keep the dog from eating the treat is to put it on a leash," Cooper later told NBC of the incident. "At some point, she decided, 'I'm gonna play the race card,' I guess."
In the video, she says she's going to call the police. "I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life," she says. The man replies, "Please tell them whatever you like." She then walks a few feet away and makes a call, presumably to 911. "I'm sorry, I'm in the Ramble, and there's a man, African American, with a bicycle helmet. He is recording me, and threatening me and my dog," she says. She then repeats herself, saying much louder, "I'm sorry I can't hear you. I'm being threatened by a man in the Ramble. Please send the cops immediately."
The entire time, the woman holds her dog in the air by its collar, causing it to squirm and yelp in distress. The video quickly went viral on Facebook and Twitter after it was shared by Cooper's sister Melody. The woman was later identified as Amy Cooper, VP of Investment Solutions at Franklin Templeton, and unofficially dubbed "Central Park Karen."
The company shared a statement on Twitter, saying, "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."
The Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. also shared a Facebook post appearing to refer to the subject of the video, with the company saying that the woman voluntarily surrendered the dog. "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," Abandoned Angels wrote.
Monday night, Amy Cooper spoke to NBC New York and apologized. "I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family," Amy Cooper told the station via phone. "It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologize 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."0comments
"When I think about the police, I'm such a blessed person. I've come to realize especially today that I think of [the police] as a protection agency, and unfortunately, this has caused me to realize that there are so many people in this country that don't have that luxury," she added.
Christian Cooper, a Harvard graduate, is currently the senior biomedical editor at Health Science Communications. He previously worked as an editor at Marvel Comics, where he introduced the first gay male character in a Star Trek comic, Yoshi Mishima. An avid birdwatcher, he was president of the Harvard Ornithological Club in the 1980s, according to Wikipedia.