It seems like four years ago that Amy Cooper was gaining national attention for her decision to call the police on Christian Cooper, a Black bird watcher in Central Park. But, time doesn’t exist in quarantine and it was actually just a little over a month ago and on Monday, Amy Cooper was arrested and charged with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.
In the trial against Amy, prosecutors will have to demonstrate that she truly did not feel threatened and that she had intent to falsely file a report. Based on Christian’s video of the incident, that certainly seems to be the case.
However, Christian told The New York Times that he doesn’t intend on participating in the case against Amy. He cited the non-criminal consequences she has faced and told the NYT that he feels that “she’s already paid a steep price” before asking “that’s not enough of a deterrent to others?”
Christian’s personal decision to not pursue a criminal investigation against Amy has been met with mixed reactions. While some are saying that charges against Amy would be a message to those who try using law enforcement in the same unjust way she did, others believe that charging Amy simply legitimized the idea that jail time is the necessary consequence for all wrongdoings.
amy cooper did something horrible, I believe she is a racist, and I believe she should face consequences for what she did. I do not believe those consequences should be criminal charges, because I do not think this system has the legitimacy or value to address her wrongdoing.
— josie duffy rice (@jduffyrice) July 6, 2020
At first, my personal thought was that Amy should face the legal consequences of her actions. Not only did she commit a crime, but she knew exactly what she was doing when she continually reinforced Christian’s race during her 911 call. Despite this impulse though, we have to ask ourselves why this is our first thought. The movement to defund and abolish the criminal justice system has brought greater attention to the dangers of and the alternatives to incarceration. If we genuinely believe in the positives that alternatives to incarceration have on society and individuals, we have to fight for them across the board.
In many states, it is already a crime to file false police reports, however, there is often little accountability when it comes to calls made with racist intent. The recently proposed CAREN Act (Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies) in San Francisco focuses specifically on actions like those taken by Amy Cooper.
Our recent reckoning with the criminal justice system is inherently uncomfortable. It is met with the internal struggle of how we approach individuals who are objectively doing wrong things. Unfortunately, there’s no clear cut solutions in cases like Amy and Christian Coopers (no relation). However, we do have to respect Christian’s decision not to participate in the case.
Image: Melody Cooper
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This week in White Women Need to Sit the F*ck Down: Amy Cooper, a white woman, called the cops on Christian Cooper (no relation), a black man who asked her to put her dog on a leash, in an area of Central Park where dogs are required to be leashed.
Karen Amy Cooper was caught on camera, and the video of the incident has gone viral.
Christian Cooper recorded the video and has told news outlets that he began recording after he had asked Amy Cooper to put a leash on her dog. The two were in the Ramble, a designated area of Central park where dogs are required to be leashed so as to not disturb the birds. Christian was enjoying a morning of birdwatching.
In the video, Amy Cooper asks Christian Cooper not to record her, and walks towards him, her dog in one hand and its leash in another. Christian Cooper calmly asks her not to come close to him. Amy Cooper then threatens to call the cops and tell them “an African American man is threatening me.” She then proceeds to make the call, and tells the police that an “African American man” is threatening her and her dog.
Christian Cooper does neither of those things, but instead calmly continues filming while she repeats herself to the cops, each time with more and more feigned panic in her voice. Eventually, she puts the leash on her dog, Christian Cooper thanks her, and appears to walk away as he stops recording.
You can watch the full video, shared by Christian Cooper’s sister, here:
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
After the video went viral, a lot of people were pissed, rightfully so. A white woman threatening to call the cops on a person of color is essentially a death threat since we all know how police tend to handle situations like that. Getting shot by police is a leading cause of death for young black men in America. Historically, white women feigning victimization in encounters with black men (and young boys) have lead to their deaths. Remember Emmett Till?
Amy Cooper weaponized her whiteness — fully aware of its lethal force — against Christian Cooper when she called the police. And all because he *checks notes* asked her to put her dog on a leash.
Both parties spoke to CNN about what happened before the recording. Amy Cooper told reporters that Christian Cooper came out of a bush, screaming at her about the leash. Christian Cooper says he was not screaming and was actually pretty calm.
I mean, seeing as the video shows Amy Cooper losing her ever-loving shit while Christian Cooper just kind of chills, I know who I believe.
After Amy refused to leash her dog, Christian said, “Look, if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it.” Then he did what he meant by that, which was take out some dog treats from his pocket and feed them to her dog. Amy Cooper claimed that he threw the treats at her dog, but Christian Cooper denied that.
Christian explained to CNN that in his experience if you feed dog treats to an unleashed dog, the owner gets mad and finally puts a damn leash on the pup.
So, I guess “bird watching” and “feeding dogs treats” can be added to the list of things that white women will call the police on black men for.
Since the video surfaced, Amy Cooper was placed on administrative leave and then later fired by her place of employment, Franklin Templeton.
Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.
— Franklin Templeton (@FTI_US) May 26, 2020
Amy Cooper told CNN she wanted to publicly apologize and also added, “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.” White woman caught on camera doing something racist then claims to not be racist. Groundbreaking.
In his comments to CNN, Christian Cooper said, “I videotaped it because I thought it was important to document things. Unfortunately we live in an era with things like Ahmaud Arbery, where black men are seen as targets. This woman thought she could exploit that to her advantage, and I wasn’t having it.”
In this instance, a white woman is experiencing the consequences of attempting to bring harm to a Black man by using her whiteness as a weapon. That is how this should go. Actions have consequences, and they often suck.
But you know what consequences would have sucked more? If Amy Cooper’s attempts were successful, and the police showed up to the scene with the understanding that a black man was threatening the life of a scared, defenseless white woman. Luckily, the person who actually deserved to suffer the consequences of her actions did in this case.
And, yes, Amy Cooper also mistreated her dog in this video, and has since surrendered it to the shelter she adopted it from. You shouldn’t choke your dog, but first and foremost, you shouldn’t be racist.
Images: Melody Cooper on Twitter